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Fewer than half of companies that pay ransoms recover their data

Fewer than half of companies that pay hackers’ ransom demands recover their data, according to a new survey of 1,200 IT security chiefs.

Of the surveyed executives who paid the ransomware fee, 51 per cent lost their data, while just 13 per cent of those who refused to pay the charge lost theirs.

The research, conducted by CyberEdge Group, lends weight to the notion that firms should not submit to hackers’ demands and must instead take alternative measures to protect their data.

Terry Ray, CTO of Israeli security firm Imperva, a sponsor of the research, said companies need to stop ransomware attacks before the encryption of data takes place.

“The best way to prevent an attack is to immediately detect ransomware file access behaviours before the ransomware spreads across the network and encrypts file servers,” he said. “Once detected, you can quarantine impacted users, devices and systems.”

The report suggests that the number of organisations compromised by ransomware fell last year from 61 to 55 per cent. In addition, for the first time in five years, the percentage of organisations affected by a successful attack fell from 79 to 77 per cent.

This comes as security budgets hit a new record high. The percentage of respondents with rising budgets leapt to 79 per cent last year, up from 48 per cent in 2014. Security now makes up 12 per cent of the total IT budget.

Four in five organisations are now suffering from the global cyber security shortage, the research revealed, with lack of skilled personnel overtaking low security awareness as the biggest hurdle for security chiefs.

A report published by jobs site Indeed last year indicated that the UK faces the second most severage cyber skills shortage of any country in the world. Last month, the government launched a new fund to address the UK’s cyber skills shortage by tackling the underrepresentation of women and neuro-diverse people in the industry.

Margot James, the recently appointed minister for digital and the creative industries, told NS Tech the pilot scheme seeks to instantly “increase the diversity and numbers of those working in the industry”.