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Report: Only Half of Ransomware-Compromised Data Will Be Recovered

During a ransomware attack, organizations can expect 41% of data to be compromised — and on average, only 57% of compromised data will be recovered, according to the 2024 Ransomware Trends Report from Veeam Software. That leaves organizations vulnerable to substantial data loss and negative business impact as a result of a cyber attack.

Third in an annual series, the report is based on a survey of 1,200 respondents including CISOs or similar titles and others whose organizations suffered at least one ransomware attack in 2023, and is designed to assess different perspectives in the fight against ransomware.

Kkey findings of the report as presented by Veeam include:

  • Cloud and on-premises data are just as easily attackable: Surprisingly, there was no significant variation between how much data was affected within the data center vs. data within remote offices/branch offices or even on data hosted in a public or private cloud. Meaning that as you've easily expanded your hybrid-cloud architecture to enable access to the users, that data is equally vulnerable to attacker. Hence, ensuring a comprehensive backup and recovery strategy across all those hybrid workloads is a must.
  • Most organizations risk reintroducing infections: Alarmingly, almost two-thirds (63%) of organizations are at risk of reintroducing infections while recovering from ransomware attacks or significant IT disasters. Pressured to restore IT operations quickly and influenced by executives, many organizations skip vital steps, such as rescanning data in quarantine or a "sandbox," causing the likelihood of IT teams to inadvertently restore infected data or malware.
  • Organizations must ensure recoverable data: As a "lesson learned," respondents of prior cyberattacks now recognize the importance of immutability with 75% of organizations now utilizing on-premises disks that can be hardened and 85 percent now utilizing cloud storage with immutability capabilities. There is more work to be done, but this shows great progress in embracing a strategy that helps ensure that backups (instead of bitcoin) can be used to recover from ransomware.

Other individual data points pulled from the report include:

  • Backup repositories are a major target: In 96% of attacks, threat actors attempt to target backup repositories, highlighting the importance of robust backup security.
    Backup Repositories Were Targeted in 96 Percent of Attacks
    [Click on image for larger view.] Backup Repositories Were Targeted in 96% of Attacks (source: Veeam).
  • Ransom is just a portion of the cost: While paying the ransom is a significant cost (32% of the financial impact), other factors like lost productivity and brand reputation take a bigger toll (68%).
    Ransom Is Only 32 Percent of Entire Financial Impact
    [Click on image for larger view.] Ransom Is Only 32% of Entire Financial Impact (source: Veeam).
  • Data recovery challenges: A significant portion of data (43%) is not recoverable after a ransomware attack, even after paying the ransom.
    43 Percent of Affected Data Not Recoverable
    [Click on image for larger view.] 43% of Affected Data Not Recoverable (source: Veeam).
  • Importance of clean backups: Only 37% of organizations ensure their backups are clean (free of malware) before restoring data, increasing the risk of re-infection.
    Only 37 Percent Ensure Cleanliness During Restores
    [Click on image for larger view.] Only 37% Ensure Cleanliness During Restores (source: Veeam).
  • Recovery options beyond original infrastructure: Organizations can recover data to cloud infrastructure (86%) or other on-premises servers (75%) in case the original servers are compromised.
    86 Percent Recovered to Servers, 75 Percent to Cloud
    [Click on image for larger view.] 86% Recovered to Servers, 75% to Cloud (source: Veeam).
  • Importance of collaboration: IT and security teams often lack alignment (63% need improvement), hindering overall preparedness.
    IT Backup/Cyber Teams Not Aligned
    [Click on image for larger view.] IT Backup/Cyber Teams Not Aligned (source: Veeam).
  • Third-party involvement during remediation: Many organizations involve backup vendors (42%), security vendors (42%), and forensics specialists (42%) during remediation.
    Third Parties Involved During Remediation
    [Click on image for larger view.] Third Parties Involved During Remediation (source: Veeam).
  • Wiping and restoring infected servers may not be an option: Due to various reasons, a significant portion (31%) of infected servers cannot be simply wiped and restored.
    Wiping and Restoring
    [Click on image for larger view.] Wiping and Restoring (source: Veeam).
  • Immutable backups gain traction: A growing number of organizations are using immutable backups (resistant to tampering) — 85% in cloud storage and 75% on disk.
    85 Percent Use Immutable Cloud Storage
    [Click on image for larger view.] 85% Use Immutable Cloud Storage (source: Veeam).

"Ransomware attacks will happen — regardless of prevention technologies or employee awareness training," the report concluded. "Through the strategic alignment of IT and security teams and the implementation of robust security measures and technologies to ensure clean, secure, and recoverable backups, organizations will be better prepared to bounce forward from a ransomware attack by implementing the following best practices:

  • Help IT teams and security teams work better together: One of the most revealing trends in this report is the fractured strategy, tool sets, and organizational alignment between executive leadership, the security teams responsible for prevention and detection, and the backup teams tasked with protection and recovery. In some organizations, especially those that handle large volumes of sensitive data, a cross-functional committee may oversee backup and disaster recovery planning. This committee typically includes representatives from IT, security, legal, and business units to ensure all perspectives are considered in the backup strategy.
  • Plan ahead: The attack will be worse than you imagined and cost more than you're expecting. Organizations should make cyber preparedness plans that include broadening the use of immutable repositories, isolation and authentication of backup systems, and verifying the recoverability of the backups within the organization to ensure the established SLAs. Modern organizations should employ an incident response playbook or plan that allows for cross-team collaboration with the goal of utilizing a diversified immutable portfolio of disks, tapes, and clouds. And finally, being able to recover to both on-premises and cloud hosted infrastructure gives an organization its best potential to survive what could be an existential threat.
  • Ensure your backups are clean and reliable: Similar to any disaster or cyber preparedness strategy, even daily backups require routine testing to ensure their viability on your worst day. For cyber resilience in particular, organizations need to test not only the recoverability of their backup data, but also the assurance of its cleanliness through immutable repositories.

The full report is available for download on the Veeam site (registration required).

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