Would you ever pay ransomware to get your data back?

In recent years, the number of ransomware attacks have continued to soar, with new research showing 5% of small-to-mid-size businesses (SMBs) globally fell victim to attacks in the first half of 2017.

The Australian government has taken a strong stance on these cyber criminals, with one clear message -- do not pay them.

The Stay Smart Online website states, “We recommend that you do not pay the ransom if affected by ransomware. There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will fix your computer, and it could make you vulnerable to further attacks. Restore your files from backup and seek technical advice.”

And while there is absolutely no guarantee paying the ransom will ensure you retrieve your data, a new study suggests that the odds might be greater than you think.

Computing consultancy firm Datto Inc. last month released its second annual State of the Channel Ransomware Report.

The report highlighted that while fewer organisations are paying ransoms, 85% of victims who did pay were able to recover their data.

Although businesses are discouraged from paying ransomware by governments as paying encourages further cybercrime, these new figures suggest that from a business perspective, the chances of retaining lost data from a ransomware attack might be higher than once thought.

This is not to suggest that paying the ransom will solve all the problems of a ransomware attack.

The report found that 47% of the time, the requested ransom was between $500 and $2000, suggesting the greatest financial damage is not from the payment itself, but from a loss in productivity.

“The ransom isn’t what breaks the bank,” stated the report. “The downtime and data loss cut the deepest. As a result of a ransomware attack, 75% of MSPs [Managed Service Providers] report clients experienced business-threatening downtime.”

The report found that back-up and data recovery is still the most effective ransomware protection.

96% of SMBs who had back-up and data recovery in place were able to fully recover from a ransomware attack, as opposed to 40% unable to recover, if they did not have these systems in place.

“There is no sure fire way of preventing ransomware. Instead, businesses should focus on how to maintain operations despite a ransomware attack,” the report said.

“There is only one way to do this: with a solid, fast and reliable back-up and recovery solution.”