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Retailers struggle to halt ransomware attacks midway, study reveals

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Sophos, a cybersecurity service provider, has released a report titled "The State of Ransomware in Retail 2023". The report found that only 26% of retail organizations could disrupt ransomware attacks before their data was encrypted, marking a three-year low for the sector. This indicates that the industry is increasingly unable to halt ransomware attacks that are already in progress. The report also revealed that the recovery costs for retail organizations that paid the ransom were four times higher than those that used backups to recover their data.

"Retailers are losing ground in the battle against ransomware. Ransomware criminals have been encrypting increasingly greater percentages of their retail victims in the last three years, as evidenced by the steadily declining rate of retailers stopping cybercriminal attacks in progress. Retailers must up their defensive game by setting up security that detects and responds to intrusions earlier in the attack chain," said Chester Wisniewski, director, global field CTO, Sophos.

In addition, the report highlights that 71% of retail organizations targeted by ransomware reported successful encryption of their data, marking the highest rate of encryption over the past three years. The percentage of retail organizations attacked by ransomware declined from 77% to 69% this year, while the percentage of retail organizations that took more than a month to recover increased from 17% to 21%.

"Forty-three percent of retail victims paid the ransom according to our survey respondents, yet the median recovery cost to victims who paid the ransom was four times the cost to those who used backups and other recovery methods. There are no shortcuts in these situations and rebuilding systems is almost always required. It's better to deprive the criminals of their spoils and build back better," said Wisniewski.

Sophos recommends several best practices to defend against ransomware attacks and other cyber threats. These include strengthening defensive shields with security tools that protect against the most common attack vectors, using zero-trust network access to thwart the abuse of compromised credentials, and implementing adaptive technologies that respond automatically to attacks. The report also advises maintaining security hygiene, including timely patching and reviewing security tool configurations, regularly backing up data, practicing data recovery, and maintaining an up-to-date incident response plan.
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