How Long Are Companies Down After a Cyberattack? Understanding Ransomware Recovery

How Long Are Companies Down After a Cyberattack? Understanding Ransomware Recovery

In today's digital age, the threat of cyber attacks looms large over businesses worldwide. The recent ransomware incidents involving Crown Equipment and CDK Global in the U.S. have brought this issue to the forefront, prompting a deeper look into how long a company can recover from such attacks.

According to a report by IBM, the average time to identify and contain a breach in 2023 was 287 days. It typically takes 204 days for a company to even recognize an attack and another 73 days to contain it. This prolonged timeline highlights the silent threat cybercriminals pose, often lurking in networks for extended periods before detection. The longer they remain undetected, the more damage they can potentially inflict.

One of the most significant impacts of prolonged cybercriminal presence is the ability to plan and execute sophisticated attacks. Cybercriminals can study the network's structure, gather sensitive financial information, and even exploit cyber insurance policies. In ransomware scenarios, this inside knowledge can be used to demand ransoms that align precisely with the company’s insurance coverages, complicating negotiations and making it harder to mitigate the attack's impact.

The actual downtime from a ransomware attack can vary significantly. On average, companies face about 22 days of downtime, as reported by Coveware. However, some companies can be incapacitated for months, depending on the attack's severity and complexity. For instance, Norsk Hydro, a major aluminum producer, was significantly disrupted for several weeks in 2019 due to a ransomware attack. Factors such as the organization's size, the complexity of its operations, and the robustness of its cybersecurity measures play crucial roles in determining the downtime.

A critical factor influencing recovery time is the organization's preparedness and response capabilities. Companies with well-defined and tested incident response plans can recover more quickly. These plans include clear protocols for communication, decision-making, and the technical steps required to restore systems. Conversely, companies without such plans or those that have not tested their plans adequately often struggle to bounce back.

For example, in 2017, shipping giant Maersk was hit by the NotPetya ransomware. Despite the massive disruption, they managed to recover in about 10 days, thanks to their robust incident response plan and a stroke of luck involving a server in Ghana that remained untouched by the hackers. On the other hand, Kronos, a major payroll company, faced a ransomware attack in December 2021 that extended their recovery process well past January 2022, severely impacting their operations and their clients.

Investing in advanced cybersecurity tools and regular employee training is crucial. Continuous training ensures that employees are aware of best practices and can act swiftly and correctly during an incident, reducing panic and preventing them from sharing sensitive information publicly. Regular cybersecurity assessments are also vital to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the network. Companies must adopt a layered security approach, implementing multiple defenses to make it harder for cybercriminals to breach their systems.

Despite significant financial resources, many companies still fall short in their cybersecurity investments. The perception that large, profitable companies are inherently secure is often misleading. Many such companies continue to suffer breaches because they do not invest adequately in cybersecurity measures. This lack of investment leaves them vulnerable, exposing their customers’ data to potential threats.

The recovery time from a cyber attack, especially ransomware, varies based on several factors, including the organization’s preparedness, the complexity of the attack, and the robustness of their cybersecurity measures. Companies must prioritize creating and testing comprehensive incident response plans, investing in advanced cybersecurity tools, and conducting regular assessments to mitigate vulnerabilities. As the digital landscape evolves, the importance of robust cybersecurity cannot be overstated, and businesses that invest in these measures will be better positioned to protect their operations and customer data.

Are you confident that your organization can withstand a ransomware attack? Get a risk assessment to find out.