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IDC: 1/3 of Organizations Experienced a Ransomware Attack or Breach

August 13, 2021

A new International Data Corporation (IDC) survey found that more than one third of organizations worldwide have experienced a ransomware attack or breach that blocked access to systems or data in the previous 12 months. And for those that fell victim to ransomware, it is not uncommon to have experienced multiple ransomware events.

"Ransomware has become the enemy of the day; the threat that was first feared on Pennsylvania Avenue and subsequently detested on Wall Street is now the topic of conversation on Main Street," said Frank Dickson, program vice president, Cybersecurity Products at IDC. "As the greed of cybermiscreants has been fed, ransomware has evolved in sophistication, moving laterally, elevating privileges, actively evading detection, exfiltrating data, and leveraging multifaceted extortion. Welcome to digital transformation's dark side!"

Key findings from the survey include the following:

The incident rate was notably lower for companies based in the United States (7%) compared to the worldwide rate (37%).

The Manufacturing and Finance industries reported the highest ransomware incident rates while the Transportation, Communication, and Utilities/Media industries reported the lowest rates.

Only 13% of organizations reported experiencing a ransomware attack/breach and not paying a ransom.

While the average ransom payment was almost a quarter million dollars, a few large ransom payments (more than $1 million) skewed the average.


Greater awareness of ransomware incidents has prompted organizations to undertake a variety of actions in response. These include reviewing and certifying security and data protection/recovery practices with partners and suppliers; periodically stress-testing cyber response procedures; and increased sharing of threat intelligence with other organizations and/or government agencies. Greater incident awareness has similarly prompted requests from boards of directors to review security practices and ransomware response procedures.

Isabelle Dumont, Vice President - Market Engagement with Cowbell Cyber added, "Ransomware attacks are devastating events often rooted in poor cybersecurity hygiene and employees not recognizing malicious emails. More needs to be done to help businesses avoid ransomware events. This is why Cowbell Cyber includes a wealth of risk management resources in our cybersecurity insurance policies: risk insights, peer benchmarking of risk exposures, recommendations to remediate security weaknesses, partner resources to improve risk profile, and cybersecurity awareness training for all employees."

Analysis of the survey results also showed that organizations that are further along in their digital transformation (DX) efforts were less likely to have experienced a ransomware event. These are organizations that have committed to a long-term DX investment plan with a multi-year approach tied to enterprise strategy.

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