Over 67% of organisations in Australia have dealt with ransomware attacks in the last 12 months – surpassing the global average of only 57%, according to cybersecurity technology firm CrowdStrike.

CrowdStrike surveyed 200 senior IT decision-makers and security professionals across Australia’s major sectors. Its latest report found that 80% of cybersecurity experts in the country were more concerned about ransomware attacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to the global average of 71%.

Moreover, 62% of Australian organisations were increasingly concerned about nation-state attacks amid the pandemic – with 71% believing those attacks will pose the single biggest threat to organisations in 2021. Several respondents said their organisation had secured approvals on security upgrades, with 74% pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic as the catalyst.

The report also revealed that 33% of the companies hit by ransomware attacks paid the ransom – costing an average of AU$1.25 million for each breach – which is higher than any other country in the Asia Pacific region and more than the global average (27%).

Over half of (59%) of Australian organisations reported that COVID-19 had accelerated their digital transformation efforts by at least six months, while 63% said the pandemic and the lockdowns made it harder to prevent cyber attackers from reaching their objective.

“The stream of high-profile ransomware attacks on Australian businesses in the last 12 months, along with the growing complexity from ongoing remote working caused by the lingering pandemic as well as geopolitical tensions, should encourage all Australian businesses to get smart about cybersecurity,” said CrowdStrike chief technology officer Michael Sentonas, as reported by IT Brief.

“It is critical that every business – regardless of size – has a focus on cybersecurity, resiliency, and privacy, not only for the sake of the business itself but as a matter of protecting the economy, national security, and the safety of all Australians as a whole.”