Veeam Software commissioned survey reveals UK business leaders more worried about ransomware than economic uncertainty.
Surging cyberattacks have significantly elevated UK business leaders’ anxiety about ransomware, with 43% ranking it as more of a concern than all other critical macroeconomic and business challenges, a new local survey from Censuswide, commissioned by Veeam Software, a data protection and ransomware Recovery provider, has revealed.
Earlier this year, the Veeam Data Protection Trends Report 2023 found that 85% of global businesses surveyed suffered at least one attack last year, so it’s not surprising that UK business leaders rate ransomware as a more significant threat to their organisation than the economic crisis (41%), skills shortages (34%), political uncertainty (31%), and Brexit (30%). However, the psychological and human impact that this is having on business leaders and their employees is far more deep-rooted than previously understood.
Censuswide surveyed 100 directors of UK companies with over 500 employees who had suffered a ransomware attack in the past 18 months. The study unearthed several concerning results: 61% are anxious about the prospect of another ransomware attack. This might well be explained by the fact that 71% agree that their business would collapse if it suffered another attack, and 56% believe another incident would force the organisation to make redundancies. In fact, 77% of organisations reduced staff numbers after the last attack and over 50% were unable to make new hires due to paying a ransom.
The local survey also uncovered the severe toll cybercrime places on people’s wellbeing: 54% of respondents said they experienced a decline in their overall health, while 26% left the role they were in altogether. Troublingly, it’s not just security and IT staff that are affected. 71% of respondents believe that ransomware attacks critically disrupted most departments in the company. The marketing team is seen as bearing the largest brunt, with 82% while other business units not usually associated with dealing with the aftermath such as operations (73%), production/R&D (73%) and HR (70%), were also adversely influenced.
The undesirable consequences people are experiencing may be partly attributed to the effect ransomware attacks can have on their careers and livelihoods. According to the survey, 20% of businesses considered dissolving within a year of an attack, 32% reported that their staff worked longer hours, and 42% of respondents said they experienced greater than normal customer losses.
Given the significant financial damage caused by ransomware, it’s clear why some businesses don’t make it. As well as the cost of the ransom itself – if paid – companies lost an average of 35% of their annual turnover in the three months following an attack, and 39% lost over 40%. 28% experienced a revenue-hitting drop in productivity.
At the same time, businesses are battling the ongoing skills shortage and challenging economic conditions, making the effects of ransomware even greater. In the wake of an incident, 56% said they had increased hiring costs, nearly half (49%) experienced increased customer complaints, and 47% reported team stress.
Dan Middleton, Regional Vice President UK&I at Veeam, said: “It’s understandable that ransomware is a leading cause of stress for business leaders and their employees, especially as it’s now a case of ‘how often’ rather than ‘if’ or ‘when’ cyber-attacks will strike. With cybercriminals constantly evolving the pursuit of their next victim, businesses must do all they can to reduce ransomware’s human and economic consequences by protecting and backing up their data to ensure rapid recovery after an attack. This will not only keep businesses running as usual in the face of the very real threat of ransomware but will also considerably alleviate the ripple effects it can have on people and businesses.”
The findings highlight the urgent need for businesses to build up cyber resilience. Fortunately, companies are taking steps to tackle the ransomware threat head-on. 43% of those surveyed implemented a backup and recovery strategy after experiencing an attack, and 37% optimised their backup and recovery strategy, showing how backup is increasingly viewed as the best line of defence.