Most People Ill Equipped to Deal with Ransomware

Last week a ransomware attack affected 200,000 computer systems across 150 countries. The malicious cyber assault went so far as to negatively impact hospital operations.

It’s no surprise, then, that a new global survey shows most people are not prepared to defend against ransomware.

“It is simply unacceptable that people do not get the care they need because of cybercriminals attacking hospitals,” says Kathy Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society, which helped fund the survey. “Law enforcement, IT professionals, consumers, business, and the public sector all have responsibility to act to keep enabling the good that the Internet brings.”

Before this latest attack, 6% of Internet users globally had been personally affected by ransomware, with Internet users in India, China and the United States the most likely to be affected, according to the joint CIGI, ISOC and UNCTAD Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, conducted by global research company Ipsos. 11% know someone who has been hit by these malicious programs.

“Cyber thieves now operate on a global scale, as the most recent attack illustrates, and just about anybody can launch a ransomware attack,” says Fen Osler Hampson, Director of Global Security at CIGI. “Ransomware attackers have discovered that they don’t have to steal or destroy your data to enrich themselves, they just have to hold it hostage.”

24% of people admit they would have no idea what to do if their computer were to be hit with ransomware, which encrypts their data and renders it inaccessible until they pay a ransom.

22% would contact law enforcement, 15% would contact their Internet Service Provider, and 9% would contact a private firm to try to retrieve their data. Unfortunately, the authorities are often unable to help—once the data is locked, it is extraordinarily difficult to retrieve without either paying the ransom or restoring the files from a backup—but only 16% of people globally indicate that they would retrieve their data from a backup.