1,100 MSPs weigh in on best practices for protecting customer data.

Lorna Garey

September 7, 2016

3 Min Read
Hacker with money

Lorna GareyDatto on Wednesday released a new report on the state of ransomware that shows just how persistent these attacks are.

Fully 91 percent of the 1,100 MSPs responding to the survey say their customers have recently been victimized by ransomware. And, attackers may circle back to see whether vulnerabilities have been addressed — 40 percent experienced six or more rounds of malware in the last year.

Datto's Rob RaeDatto says that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center registered nearly 2,500 ransomware complaints in 2015, representing more than $1.6 million in losses, but that this figure is likely far smaller than the reality, as just one in four incidents is reported to authorities. And, this phenomenon is global. Survey respondents are from North America as well as Australia and the EU.

Other key findings: Ransomware is equal-opportunity malware, with attacks being launched on small, midsize and large organizations across verticals. Mobile devices are relatively immune, for now anyway, with just 3 percent of respondents seeing attacks on iOS or Android. And, paying up does not guarantee that customer data will be decrypted. Seven percent of respondents say ransom didn’t result in restoration. That plays a role in the FBI’s current recommendation that customers not pay what it deems extortion.

Rob Rae, vice president of business development for Datto, called out the finding that American small businesses lose an estimated $75 billion yearly to ransomware, largely because of downtime, which Datto calculates costs more than $8,500 per hour.{ad}

“In analyzing the results of this survey, it’s clear that ransomware is one of the biggest threats small businesses face today,” Rae told Channel Partners. “In addition to downtime, data and financial losses, falling victim to ransomware can result in a damaged reputation, and there’s no guarantee that a business will be able to reclaim its data even if the ransom is paid. Even though there is no foolproof way to avoid a ransomware attack, SMBs need to make sure they have the appropriate security systems and partners in place to lessen the blow of an attack. The last line of defense is a good backup of data that an SMB can successfully use.”

Given that Datto is in the data-protection business, it’s not surprising that the report’s main recommendation for solutions providers is to ensure customers have solid disaster-recovery plans and up-to-date backups, configured in such a way that ransomware can’t get into and corrupt stored copies of files. Education also plays a key role — phishing emails are a main source of ransomware. However, just 14 percent of respondents say …


… customers have cybersecurity training programs in place. Just over half regularly patch and update applications.

The FBI offers a baseline set of recommendations:

  • Implement a robust data back-up and recovery plan. Maintain copies of files, particularly sensitive or proprietary data, in a separate secure location. Backup copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks.

  • Never open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails. Educate users to be vigilant about links contained in e-mails, even if the link appears to be from someone they know.

  • Keep antivirus software up to date. Enable automated patches for operating systems and web browsers.

  • Download software, especially free software, only from known and trusted sites.

Partners can also advise customers to avoid setting users up with administrator accounts unless necessary and have on hand ransomware decryption tools, like those from AVG  and Kaspersky, that can tackle the most common ransomware strains.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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