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1/27/2020
07:20 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb

Ransomware Costs More in Q4

In Q4 of 2019, the average ransom payment increased by 104% to $84,116, finds Coveware report.

Coveware's Incident Response Platform has encountered a number of ransomware incidents in its deployment. Coveware has taken the aggregated anonymized ransomware data from cases that have been handled (and resolved) and reported about it in its blog.

It discusses data points like the average ransom amounts, data recovery rates and ransomware attack vectors. Coveware also makes the point that unlike surveys, which rely on sentiment, its report is created solely from a standardized set of data collected from every case.

This stricter methodology may help to legitimize what it has to say, since the total number of incidents used by the report is not available.

Coveware found that the total cost of a ransomware attack is going to be a function of the severity and duration of the attack. Financial costs include the ransom payment, if one is made, and the costs of remediation of a network and its hardware, which may be substantial.

Coveware saw the average number of days that a ransomware incident lasts is now 16.2 days. This is up from the 12.1 days that showed up in the third quarter of 2019.

It may be that ransomware is affecting larger organizations with more complex networks that will take a longer amount of time to fix after an attack. This could drive up the length of the incident.

In Q4 of 2019, the average ransom payment increased by 104% to $84,116, up from $41,198 in Q3 of 2019. While the median ransomware payment in Q4 was $41,179, the doubling of the average appears to reflect the diversity of threat actors that are actively attacking companies.

Some ransomware variants, such as Ryuk and Sodinokibi, appear to have moved into the large enterprise space. These two are focusing their attacks on large companies, where they can attempt to extort the organization for a seven-figure payout. For instance, Ryuk ransom payments reached a new high of $780,000 for impacted enterprises.

Yet, in Q4 of 2019, 98% of companies that paid the ransom did receive a working decryption tool, the same as last quarter. Some strains like Phobos, Rapid and Mr. Dec have been known as laggards on providing decryptors however.

Q4 2019 saw Sodinokibi as the most prevalent type of ransomware by incident count. It is not uncommon for a single Sodinokibi attack to create hundreds of individual small business victims.

Ryuk was again the second most common type of ransomware during Q4. The average Ryuk ransom amount rose dramatically and Coveware thought that this accounted for the majority of the change in the average ransom payment doubling during the quarter.

As far as the vectors of ransomware, Coveware found that, "During Q4, the lower end ransomware-as-a-service variants such as Dharma and Phobos continued to exploit cheap and easy attack vectors like RDP. The more sophisticated groups like Sodinokibi also use RDP when available, but have also been observed exploiting more technically complex CVE’s, and using email phishing."

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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