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Ransomware: The Biggest Cybercrime Threat Of 2023

Bryan Badger avatar
Written by Bryan Badger posted on Mar 13, 2023

Ransomware is likely today's biggest threat to cybersecurity, and it’s only getting more dangerous. Do you know the state of ransomware in 2023? 

It feels like no more than a few days go by without another ransomware story in the news. What used to be just one threat present in the cybercrime landscape has now become the clearest and present danger to modern businesses. 

Did you know that there were over 37,700 ransomware attacks occurring every hour around the world last year? That’s just one threat businesses faced, and continue to deal with day in and day out this year. 

That’s why you need to take action and defend yourself…

What’s The Reality Of Ransomware in 2023?

According to Sophos’ annual State Of Ransomware Report, this popular weapon in use by cybercriminals around the world is only becoming more common:

  • 66% of organizations were hit by ransomware in the last year
  • 65% of attacks resulted in encrypted data
  • 72% experienced an increase in cyber attacks and related damages

How Does Ransomware Work?

In a ransomware attack, an unsuspecting user clicks on a seemingly safe link or an emailed attachment that appears to be a bill or other official document.

Unfortunately for the user, that link/attachment isn’t safe. By clicking it, the user compromises their credentials, giving the cybercriminals the login information they need to access the company's network. 

The cybercriminal can then remotely access the target’s IT environment, gain remote control over the user’s computer, and gather intelligence to determine the ideal place and time to attack and infect the systems with ransomware. 

How Does Ransomware Infect Your Systems?

There are five primary ways that hackers trick targets into downloading ransomware:


Phishing is a hacking technique that "fishes" for victims by sending them deceptive emails. Phishing attacks are often mass emails that include ransomware as an attachment.


Hackers have found vulnerabilities in many popular, modern browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. They spam users with official-looking pop-ups informing them of an “infection” or “security alert” prompting them to download a file or click a link. That's where the ransomware comes into play. As with so many of these methods, it just comes down to getting the user to interact with malware in some way without knowing it. 

Remote Desktop Protocol

RDP is a known infiltration point for cybercriminals, especially for unpatched systems.

3rd-Party Remote

Many cybercriminals are attacking third-party remote-control tools as they know that once they can gain access to a remote control tool, they will have access to several machines that can be infected. 

Out Of Date Hardware

Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting those programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users. 

What Is The Real Cost of Ransomware?


This is the most obvious cost, and it just keeps going up. According to Sophos, 3x as many victims paid ransoms of $1 million USD or more last year. This is up from 4% in 2020 to 11% in 2021. 

According to Datto, the average ransom requested by hackers is increasing. IT companies report the average requested ransom for SMBs is ~$5,900, up 37%, year-over-year.


As Kapersky notes, 34% of businesses hit by ransomware take up to a week to regain access to data. In that week, you’re still incurring costs associated with downtime while you and your staff can’t access your data.

That’s time in which you can’t get work done, can’t serve your clients, can’t gain new business, and still pay your employee wages and ongoing costs to keep the lights on.

Put simply? Lots of expenses with no revenue. 90% of respondents in Sophos’ report said that ransomware affected their ability to operate, and 86% said it cost them money. 


Lastly, there’s the cost of damage control. Do you have to hire an IT company to help you out? Do you have to hire a forensic cybersecurity crew to determine how you were attacked? Do you have to pay fines for breaching HIPAA or FINRA regulations? 

These all get added to the bill for getting hit by ransomware. Just think for a second about what it would be like if you couldn't access your data. Technology is such a crucial part of business today, that without it, you can't do much of anything.

On average, Sophos found that it cost $1.4M USD to recover from a ransomware attack. The recovery process took up to a month to complete for many businesses that were infected.

Why Does Ransomware Work?

This may seem like an odd question, but it’s important to consider—if ransomware attacks are this common, and generally work the same way every time, why haven’t they become less effective? Because businesses like yours keep letting it happen. 

Despite the countless examples as to how dangerous ransomware is, very few businesses are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves. 

According to Datto, 89% of MSPs are “very concerned” about the ransomware threat and 28% report their SMB clients feel the same. It's this lack of concern among businesses that makes them such perfect targets for cybercriminals.

What Would Happen If You Were Infected With Ransomware Right Now?

Do you have a plan? Are your system endpoints protected? Are your backups recent, tested, and viable?

It’s easy to assume that just because you haven’t been hit by ransomware yet, then you won’t be anytime soon. You may think you can put off investing in an effective business continuity plan, but without warning, you may get hit. 

Don’t assume you’re safe. Take the time to make sure you are, or you may end up having to pay a ransom.

What’s The Best Way To Protect Yourself Against Ransomware?

When you’re not sure if you have the skills or knowledge to get the job done, what can you do? Consult with cybersecurity professionals like those on the Integral Networks team.

The cybersecurity professional's job is to manage your cybersecurity, simple as that. 

Instead of needing an employee or internal team to keep your tech and data secure, you let someone else with the skills and knowledge do it for you:

  • Cybersecurity professionals perform regular vulnerability testing as per industry standards to ensure you aren't dealing with overlooked cybersecurity weaknesses.
  • Cybersecurity professionals help you plan and achieve a secure environment to work in.
  • Cybersecurity professionals provide ongoing service and support for any security-related concerns you may have.

The Good News: Ransomware Defenses Are Becoming More Effective

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad news. Sophos notes that many businesses are becoming more adept at recovering from ransomware attacks. 

99% of organizations hit by ransomware in 2021 recovered some encrypted data after the fact.

Between backups and ransom payments, 44% of the organizations considered in Sophis’ study employed a range of methods to restore their data. 

However, don’t assume that paying the ransom will necessarily get you your data back—companies that paid received only 61% of their data on average.

Need Expert Assistance With Your Ransomware Defense?

When you’re not sure if you have the skills or knowledge to get the job done, what can you do? Consult with cybersecurity professionals like those on the Integral Networks team.

Our job is to manage your cybersecurity, simple as that. Instead of needing an employee or internal team to keep your tech and data secure, you let our team do it for you.

Get in touch with our team to get started on your ransomware defense today.

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