Report: Ransomware Attacks on Small Businesses Increasing

This scenario is becoming much too common: A managed services client calls in a panic because they’ve been locked out of their company data. Someone at the company fell prey to a malicious email and clicked on a link they shouldn’t have. Now some shadowy figure is demanding the company pay a ransom to regain access to their data. The client wants you to fix it ASAP.

A recent report from data protection services provider Datto outlines just how prevalent the ransomware epidemic has become. The company surveyed 1,100 managed service providers worldwide, and it found growing concern. Ninety-seven percent of the respondents say ransomware attacks on small businesses are becoming more frequent. Despite the increased frequency, respondents report that only 34 percent of small business owners are highly concerned about ransomware, compared to 88 percent of IT pros.

Other key findings include:

  • More than 91 percent of the respondents have had clients victimized by ransomware. Forty percent of them have dealt with six or more attacks in the past year.
  • The leading cause of a ransomware infection is an email phishing scheme and lack of employee training.
  • Fewer than 25 percent of ransomware attacks are reported to authorities.
  • Anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are becoming less effective. Ninety-three percent of respondent report attacks on clients where those deterrents were in place.
  • Paying the ransom does not guarantee getting the data back. Seven percent of respondents reported incidents where clients paid but did not regain access.
  • The average ransom request is $500 to $2,000, with 10 percent of respondents reporting ransom requests of $5,000 or more.
  • By far, Windows is the most common system infected. Only 3 percent of respondents reported incidents on mobile devices or tablets.
  • Industries most commonly targeted are professional services, healthcare, and construction and manufacturing.
  • Perhaps the most alarming, cloud services such as Dropbox or Microsoft Office 365 are not immune to being infected by ransomware. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported cases where ransomware infected a cloud service. Dropbox was by far the most commonly infected with 70 percent of those cases.
  • The report offers a couple of important pieces of advice for minimizing the damage done by ransomware attacks: First, have a good backup and data recovery (BDR) system in place. Survey respondents report that they have been able to resolve the problem nearly 100 percent of the time when the client had a BDR solution. Second, make sure employees are trained to recognize possible ransomware attacks and respond accordingly.

The full report is available at

Michael Nadeau
About the Author
Michael Nadeau is a contributing editor for ENX Magazine.