Banks warned of sharp rise in ransomware attacks as one in four firms are prepared to pay a ransom to hackers to avoid cyber attacks

Clara Guibourg
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"It’s shocking that so many companies are willing to pay even a penny’s ransom" (Source: Getty)

One in four firms is prepared to pay a ransom to hackers to avoid a cyber attack, just as banks are warned of ransomware attacks against them rising sharply.

With cybercrime a growing threat and strict new EU legislation imposing steep sanctions on firms that fail to protect themselves, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity has moved higher up on boardroom agendas.

And companies are surprisingly open to paying ransoms to hackers to prevent attacks, with a new survey from the research body Cloud Security Alliance and Skyhigh Networks showing that 24 per cent would pay a ransom, and 14 per cent willing to pay over $1m to avoid being hacked.

Nigel Hawthorn, Skyhigh Networks’ chief spokesperson for Europe, warned firms that there were “no guarantees at any price”:

It’s shocking that so many companies are willing to pay even a penny’s ransom, and would trust hackers not to follow through with an attack. The idea that some would pay more than $1m is downright staggering.

Ransomware, a type of malware that infects a victim’s computer, blocks access to files and then demands payment be made, has been rising sharply.

Previously, consumers were the most likely target, but now US Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council has warned banks that cybercriminals have increasingly turned their attention to financial institutions.

“One of our predictions for 2016 is that the problem with ransomware is probably going to be much bigger than it was last year,” said George Quigley, cybersecurity analyst at KPMG.

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