CSO spotlight: Ransomware

5 reasons why the cost of ransomware attacks is rising

The ransom is still a tiny portion of the total cost of a ransomware attack, but associated costs are increasing.


Not many organizations end up paying $67 million in ransomware related costs like United Health Services (UHS) did last year following a September 2020 attack that crippled its network. The organization is, however, an example of the increasingly heavy financial toll that these attacks have begun to exact from victims over the past two years.

Security experts that have been following the trend point to several factors as driving the increased costs associated with ransomware attacks, especially for organizations in the healthcare sector. One of the most obvious is an increase in the average ransoms that attackers have been demanding from victims.

An analysis of claims data from policyholders by cyber insurance firm Coalition last year showed the average ransom demand jumping 47% from just over $230,000 in Q1, 2020 to $338,669 in Q2, 2020. Some, like the operators of the Maze ransomware strain hit victims with an average ransom demand of $420,000. A study by Coveware found actual ransomware payouts skyrocketing too—from just over $84,000 in Q4, 2019 to over $233,817 in Q3, 2020.

However, the ransom itself is only part of the total cost and is often not a factor at all for organizations that refuse to accede to extortion attempts. Even for such organizations, the cost of attacks has increased steadily over the past two years or so. Here, according to security experts, are five of the most common reasons why that has happened.

1. Downtime costs

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