UK BUSINESSES are 'stockpiling' virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, in order to pay ransomware demands.
According to Citrix, 33 per cent of UK businesses with more than 250 employees are 'stockpiling Bitcoins to pay up' in the event of an attack. Bitcoin and other digital currencies are increasingly being chosen by cyber criminals as a form of payment due to their inherent anonymity.
Firms with 250 or more employees represent only 0.1 per cent of the UK economy, but make a large contribution to employment (10.3 million people) and turnover (more than £2tn).
36 per cent of organisations with 250-500 employees are storing Bitcoin, but the propensity peaked amongst those with 501-1,000 employees (57 per cent) and decreased amongst larger organisations (24 per cent of firms with 1,001-2,000 employees, and 18 per cent of those with 2,000+).
However, it was the latter group that was willing to pay the most to recover their data: 35 per cent of the largest firms would pay more than £50,000.
On average, companies have stockpiled around £46,000 in Bitcoin; a third have stored more than £50,000, and the largest hold as much as £136,000.
The research showed that many firms do not have basic cybersecurity practices in place. For example, 55 per cent of the largest companies are failing to back up their data every day; and seven per cent of companies with 250-500 employees have no contingency measures in case of a ransomware attack (although this is down significantly from 20 per cent last year).
A quarter of respondents to the Citrix poll said that the government is failing to provide businesses with guidance to avoid cyber attacks - although this is down from 32 per cent in 2016. µ
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