A study conducted by security firm Proofpoint has found that UK firms are the most likely to pay hackers the ransom fee to get their stolen data back.
The research found that 82% of British firms which have been targeted by ransomware attacks have paid the hackers fees to receive the stolen data back, the global average was 58%.
Over three-quarters of UK businesses were affected by ransomware attacks last year, according to the study.
Phishing attacks happen when an employee is lured into clicking on a link in an email that contains a piece of malware, this then allows criminals to access company networks.
Phishing attacks remain the key way criminals access networks, the research found.
While negotiating with cyber-criminals is highly discouraged by governments, it hasn’t prevented high-profile companies including JBS Foods and Colonial Pipeline paying the ransom fee in order to get their systems back online.
Only half of the firms surveyed manage to get access back to to their data and systems, as criminals demanded more money once negotiations started.
Around 4% of those firms who paid a ransom were unable to retrieve their data, either because the key was faulty or the criminals simply walked away with the money.
Proofpoint researchers said that companies must build “a culture of security,” in order to avoid phishing attacks.
“A staggering amount of UK businesses experienced a phishing attack in 2021 and 91% of those attacks were successful,” Proofpoint cyber-security strategist Adenike Cosgrove told the BBC.
“This compounds the fact that the UK is facing threats from all angles.”