Anomali Harris Poll: Ransomware Hits 1 in 5 Americans

Anomali Harris Poll: Ransomware Hits 1 in 5 Americans

August 16, 2019 | Joe Franscella

Most Voters to Consider Candidates' Cybersecurity Records in Future Elections

Cybercriminals have been using ransomware to profit off of unprepared victims for more than a decade. Ransomware rose to infamy when the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks struck the world. Recently, attackers have collected more than a million dollars from the Florida cities of Riviera Beach and Lake City. In July, ransomware drove Louisana into a state of emergency.

Since the emergence of ransomware, we have learned much about how government agencies and businesses deal with it. When attacked, some organizations have  chosen to pay criminals to retrieve their data and unlock their computers. Others have decided not to give into extortion. Two organizations in particular, the FBI and National Conference of Mayors, have come out against paying off criminals.

Until now, we haven’t known much about how every-day American adults feel about this modern crime wave. To understand better how they feel, we commissioned a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll in July of 2019 among more than 2,000 U.S. adults.

One of the top findings was the number of American adults who have been touched by ransomware. The survey revealed that roughly 1 in 5 Americans (21%) have experienced a ransomware attack on a personal and/or work device. Among those who experienced an attack on a work device, 46 percent say their companies paid a ransom.

The survey suggested that Americans believe government and businesses alike should do more to defend against ransomware and cyberattacks, that they are willing to contribute more to the fight, and that government officials’ decisions related to cybersecurity will impact voting decisions they make in the future. Here is an in-depth look at more of what we learned:

Taking a Stand

The survey revealed that many Americans view cybersecurity as a priority. A large portion (87%) believe that government should consider it as such. However, only 51 percent believe the government is effectively addressing the issue.

It is probably not too surprising to learn that most Americans believe that the government should do more to defend against cybercrime. It was surprising to discover that a majority of Americans may be willing to contribute to the cause.

The survey showed that 61 percent of Americans would support a federal income tax increase to help fund government efforts to defend against cyberattacks. The breakdown for the amount of tax increase Americans would support is:

  • 25% support an increase of up to 1%
  • 14% support an increase of up to 2%
  • 12% support an increase of up to 3%
  • 6% support an increase of up to 4%
  • 5% support an increase of 5% or more

Empathy

Although most Americans expressed that they were generally against making ransomware payments, there are a significant amount who seem to understand that it is a difficult challenge to overcome. The survey showed:

  • 34 percent of Americans think it is at least sometimes OK for government organizations to make ransomware payments; 7 percent believe it is always OK
  • 36 percent of Americans think it is at least sometimes OK for business organizations to make ransomware payments; 6 percent believe it is always OK
  • Of those who believe it is OK for businesses to make ransomware payments, the following are the top three reasons as providing cause for business to pay ransom demands: 58 percent, to protect customers’ personal information; 53 percent, to protect employees’ personal information; 49 percent, to protect the safety, wellness and life of others.
  • Of those who believe it is OK for government organizations to make ransomware payments, the following are the top three reasons as providing cause to government pay ransom demand: 62 percent, to protect national security; 56 percent, to protect citizens’ personal information; 53 percent, to protect confidential government information.

How Anomali Helps

Anomali harnesses threat data, information, and intelligence to drive effective cyber security decisions. Our advanced platform combined with the expertise and experience of the Anomali Threat Research Team helps our customers to identify when they are under attack, who is attacking them and how to respond. With an eye on ransomware, we have recently helped the public and private sectors to detect and defend against several new ransomware campaigns. To read more about these, visit our blogs:

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Survey Method

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Anomali, from July 18-22, 2019 among 2,021 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,723 are registered voters. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes please contact jfranscella@anomali.com.

Joe Franscella
About the Author

Joe Franscella

Joe Franscella is a Senior Director of Strategy at Anomali. He focuses on helping the company to convey the value that Anomali intelligence-driven cybersecurity solutions deliver to the market. He is passionate about helping all organizations to defend themselves against cyberthreats.

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