Fortinet survey finds most organisations felt prepared for ransomware attacks, yet half fell victim

New Zealand Security Magazine - Update

Fortinet survey explores cybersecurity leaders' perspectives on ransomware. Image: detail from Fortinet 2023 Global Ransomware Report.

Organisations taking a best-of-breed, point product approach to security were more likely to be attacked by ransomware in the last year reveals survey by Fortinet.

Fortinet has unveiled its 2023 Global Ransomware Report, which is based on a recent global survey that explores cybersecurity leaders’ perspectives on how ransomware impacted their organisations in the last year, and their strategies to mitigate an attack.

Key findings from the global survey include:

  • The global threat of ransomware remains at peak levels, with half of organisations across all sizes, regions and industries falling victim in the last year.
  • The top challenges to stopping a ransomware attack were people and process related, with many organisations lacking clarity on how to secure against the threat.
  • There are a range of technologies viewed as essential to prevent ransomware, with an overwhelming majority prioritising an integrated approach to security.
  • Despite the global macroeconomic environment, security budgets will increase in the next year with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) technologies to speed detection, centralised monitoring tools to speed response, and better preparation of people and processes.

The survey was conducted among 569 cybersecurity leaders from 31 different locations around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, India, and Japan, among others. Survey respondents came from a range of industries, such as manufacturing (29 percent), technology (19 percent), transportation (12 percent) and healthcare (11 percent).

A growing disconnect between ransomware preparedness and prevention

Fortinet’s research revealed there was a large disconnect between respondents’ level of preparedness with existing strategies and their ability to stop a ransomware attack. Although 78 percent of organisations stated they were “very” or “extremely” prepared to mitigate an attack, the survey found 50 percent fell victim to ransomware in the last year, and almost half were targeted two or more times.

Specifically, four out of the five top challenges to stopping ransomware were people or process related. The second largest challenge was a lack of clarity on how to secure against the threat as a result of a lack of user awareness and training, and no clear chain-of-command strategy to deal with attacks.

More organisations are paying the ransom, despite industry guidance

The survey also found that despite most (72 percent) detecting an incident within hours, and sometimes minutes, the percentage of organisations paying ransoms remains high, with almost three-quarters of respondents making some form of ransom payment.

When comparing across industries, organisations in the manufacturing sector received higher ransoms and were more likely to pay the fee. Specifically, one quarter of attacks among manufacturing organisations received a ransom of US$1M or higher.

While almost all organisations (88 percent) reported having cyber insurance, almost 40 per cent didn’t receive as much coverage as expected and, in some cases, didn’t receive any because of an exception from the insurer.

Security budgets will increase despite economic uncertainty

With concerns about ransomware still high and despite a challenging global economic environment, nearly all organisations (91 percent) expect increased security budgets in the next year.

Based on the technologies viewed as most essential to secure against ransomware, organisations were most concerned with Internet of Things (IoT) security, secure access service edge (SASE), cloud workload protection, next-generation firewall (NGFW), endpoint detection and response (EDR), zero trust network access (ZTNA), and security email gateway.

When comparing to 2021, the number of respondents citing ZTNA and secure email gateway increased by nearly 20 percent. Given email phishing remained the most common attack entry method for the second time, it was promising to see respondents view secure email gateway (51 percent) with higher importance, however, other essential protections, such as sandboxing (23 percent) and network segmentation (20 percent) remained low on the list.  

In the future, top priorities for respondents will be investing in advanced technology powered by AI and ML to enable faster threat detection and central monitoring tools to speed response. These investments will help organisations combat a rapidly evolving threat landscape as cyber attackers become more aggressive and deploy new elements into attacks. 

Enhancing ransomware protection through a platform approach

In addition, the report found that organisations using point products were the most likely to fall victim to an attack in the last year, while those who had consolidated to a smaller number of platforms were the least likely to be a victim.

Almost all respondents (99 percent) viewed integrated solutions or a platform as essential to preventing ransomware attacks. These findings underscore the importance of leveraging a unified platform approach to defend against ransomware.

Read Fortinet’s blog for key takeaways from Fortinet’s 2023 Global Ransomware Report, including a breakdown on how ransomware has impacted regions across the globe.

Learn more about how the Fortinet Security Fabric can deliver end-to-end security to organisations to prevent ransomware across all points of entry.