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4 In 10 Ransomware Victims Pay Up To Recover Documents

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Bitdefender study finds 31 percent of users would pay £400 to recover their encrypted data

Security solutions provider Bitdefender has discovered that 44 percent of ransomware victims in the UK have paid to regain access to their data.

The company believes this figure will rise in the coming years, with 39 percent of victims saying it is probable or very probable that they will be attacked again in the future.

Encrypted data

The findings also revealed that victims are willing to pay up to £400 to recover their encrypted data. When questioned on when these attacks are most likely to occur, 76 per cent of respondents said they believe that attacks could happen at any time.

A typical ransomware page
A typical ransomware page

Catalin Cosoi, chief security strategist at Bitdefender, said: “The ransomware phenomenon has been hitting internet users and generating huge profit for cybercriminals for years. While victims are usually inclined to pay the ransom, we encourage them not to engage in such actions as it only serves to financially support the malware’s developers. Instead, coupling a security solution with minimum online vigilance could help prevent any unwanted ransomware infection.”

67 per cent of respondents had correctly associated ransomware with a virus and 44 per cent had accurately identified ransomware as a type of threat that prevents or limits access to computer data. Almost 34 per cent of respondents had identified the top three most common ransomware infection vectors as email messages that contain computer viruses, files that contain a virus, and visited websites that are hacked or have viruses.

Bitdefender predicts that ransomware infections will continue to gain traction in 2016, adding other features such as extortion to their toolkit. Under the threat of posting all collected data online, victims may be forced to pay a fee within a certain time period to keep their data private. While victims may later retrieve the unencrypted files that have been posted online, those files would be easily accessible to the public.

The study covered countries such as the UK, USA, France, Germany, Denmark and Romania across November 2015 with 1,906 respondents.

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