Global cybersecurity provider Sophos recently shared some sobering findings from its latest report, The State of Ransomware 2021. According to the report, the average cost of recovering from a ransomware attack is now 10 times the amount of the ransom payment.

In other words, recovering from a ransomware attack is expensive. On average, an organization’s remediation costs reached $1.85 million in 2021, factoring in downtime, lost revenue, operational costs, and other expenses such as security audits, compliance penalties, and repair and restoration. 

What this dollar amount doesn’t reflect, however, is how much a ransomware attack costs your company’s reputation.

The Direct and Indirect Costs of Customer Responses to Ransomware

Customer response to a successful ransomware attack can cost your business in direct and indirect ways.

Direct Cost: Legal

The recent DarkSide ransomware attack on U.S. fuel provider Colonial Pipeline caused a temporary gas shortage for portions of the East Coast. As a result, Colonial Pipeline is being sued by a North Carolina gas station that sourced its fuel from a Colonial Pipeline distributor.

According to the lawsuit:

  • The breach occurred “despite advance knowledge and warnings.”
  • Before the attack, Colonial Pipeline “repeatedly ignored and rejected efforts by the applicable regulatory agency to meet with it so as to check on its cybersecurity.” 
  • Colonial Pipeline “had no plan in place for ransomware attacks and had left up a legacy VPN system without shutting off logins and passwords for old employees.” 

Scripps Health is another example of a recent ransomware attack that resulted in customers taking legal action. The Scripps Health class-action lawsuit alleges that Scripps “failed in its duty to protect patient information, subjecting patients to potential consequences, including identity theft and medical fraud.”

Indirect Cost: Loyalty

Consumers are already wary of businesses’ commitment to data security, so even a hint of a cyberattack or data breach can send your customers to your competitor. One study found that as many as one in four consumers will abandon a product or service and switch to a competitor after a single ransomware-related service disruption.

6 Ways to Protect Customer Data and Your Brand Loyalty

Customer loyalty is tough to earn and easy to lose. And if your customers don’t feel like you are doing enough to protect their data, they won’t hesitate to find out if your competitors will.

Here are six best practices that will improve cybersecurity, minimize downtime, and show your customers you take their data privacy very seriously:

1. Secure Backups

Secure backups are essential to recovery after a ransomware attack or other major disruption that affects your data. Adopting a 3-2-1-1 backup strategy keeps an offline, air-gapped copy away from the company network and almost untouchable by hackers. 

Immutable backups are also an important safeguard because the data cannot be altered by authorized or unauthorized users, so you always have a clean copy to restore from.

2. Data Protection as a Service 

Data protection as a service (DPaaS) is a subscription-based cloud solution that combines three services: backup as a service, disaster recovery as a service, and storage as a service. Together, these three services create a reliable, full-coverage data protection strategy. 

3. Multilayer Security

The most efficient approach to securing data is to implement a multilayer security strategy

Multilayer security provides cybersecurity to prevent and neutralize attacks, data protection to prevent loss and facilitate recovery, and security awareness training to make your people part of the security perimeter.

4. Identity and Access Management

With many businesses adopting permanent remote or hybrid work environments, strict identity and access management protocols are essential for data security.

Implementing multi-factor authentication, using zero trust frameworks, and restricting privileges to essential users only will help keep hackers out of your network and minimize the amount of damage done if a breach does occur.

5. Patch Management

Missed patches and skipped updates are open invitations for hackers—and, unfortunately, they are some of the most common vulnerabilities. Luckily, these issues are also often avoidable.

Make patch management a priority by automating updates when it is possible and assigning IT staff to install updates immediately when it’s not. If having someone dedicated to patch management and updates isn’t an option, consider outsourcing it to a managed service provider. It’s that important.

6. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning is key to preventing data loss and minimizing downtime during and after a cyberattack, natural disaster, or other unplanned outage.

Schedule regular testing and plan reviews to update and revise the plans as needed. Frequent reviews will ensure all the policies and processes are current so the plan will work as intended during a real crisis.

Don’t let a single security event undo years of customer goodwill. Download Ransomware's Stunning Impact on Consumer Loyalty and Purchasing Behavior to learn why a rock-solid data protection strategy is essential in today’s privacy-hungry consumer climate.

Download the Guide: Ransomware's Stunning Impact on Consumer Loyalty and Purchasing Behavior