Technology company Comparitech reported a study that assessed 186 ransomware attacks against U.S. businesses in 2020. The study concluded that companies lost US$21 billion because of the downtime caused by the attack. The number of ransomware attacks increased by 245% compared to 2019.

Our team sifted through several different resources—specialist IT news, data breach reports, and state reporting tools—to collate as much data as possible on ransomware attacks on US businesses. We then applied data from studies on the cost of downtime to estimate a range for the likely cost of ransomware attacks to businesses,” Comparitech said explaining its approach.

The companies, on average, were downtime 9 days and had to investigate for 2.5 months to understand the nature & impact of the attack. Cybercriminals demanded amounts ranging from half a million dollars up to the US $21 Million. The average cost per minute of downtime is the US $8662; Reputational damages is on top of the $8662 figure. The study showed that approx 7 million records were stolen or abused, an 800% increase compared to last year.

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Healthcare & businesses were preferred targets in 2020. Perhaps, pandemic driven government offices and educational institutions shutdown diverted attackers’ attention.

If the events of  2021 are considered, Comparitech guesses that the costs to businesses will rise further. “If the second half of 2021 sees the same number of attacks as the first half (91), 2021’s figures will be in line with 2020s–over 180 individual ransomware attacks. However, with many attacks often revealed weeks or months after they’ve happened, these figures are likely to rise even higher over the coming months, suggesting 2021 will be a record-breaking year for ransomware attacks on US businesses,” the company warned.