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A majority of British businesses hit by ransomware were unable to use affected systems for a week or more, causing thousands of pounds damage a day to most, a survey has found.

While 85% were offline for a week or more, a third of the businesses surveyed had to cope with affected systems being unavailable for more than a month, with 15% reporting that the data which had been encrypted by the ransomware was not recoverable.

Ransomware is malicious code that infects largely Windows computers and encrypts files based on what instructions are in its code. It then displays a ransom note when the user logs in and instructs them how much to pay — mostly in Bitcoin — and where the payment can be made.

The survey, conducted by managed cloud service provider Timico and business continuity solutions provider Datto between 30 January and 3 February 2017, collected data from representatives of 1000 businesses, with half being small and medium enterprises and the other half being large corporations.

The individuals who provided data were IT managers, IT directors, chief technology officers, chief information officers, chief executives, managing directors and finance directors.

The survey found that the ransom demands were rising. About 23% of the businesses surveyed paid more than £5000 (approximately $8105) to retrieve their data while 26% paid between £3000 and £5000.

Large corporates paid higher ransoms, with a third of the corporates paying more than £5000 while 15% of SMEs faced similar demands. The most common demand from SMEs (35%) was between £500 and £1500.

The businesses surveyed did not have a ready means of computing what the ransomware attacks had cost them, with 29% saying it was “unquantifiable”. But 53% said the downtime of data systems had cost their organisations between 1000 and 2000 a day in lost revenue.

Nearly two-thirds of the businesses had no policy in place to tackle ransomware attacks, leaving staff at a loss as to what should be done in the event of an attack.

How secure is your system, and do you have a policy in place that can allow you to recovery quickly? As a pro-active IT provider, we work with you in order to produce a strategy that is fit for your organisation, rather than adpoting the typical daily backup routing that is often no longer a viable option.

Contact us today to discuss in more detail.