Malware & Ransomware Protection

How Ransomware Shakes Up GDPR Compliance

rectangle Written by: Anne Gotay rectangle 2 5 min read

How is Data Breach Severity Calculated Under GDPR?

Under the GDPR, the severity of a data breach is determined by considering several factors:

  1. The type of personal data that has been compromised, with sensitive or confidential information given higher weightage.
  2. The number of individuals whose personal data has been affected by the breach. If the breach has affected a large number of people, then it is considered more severe.
  3. The extent of the damage caused to the individuals whose data has been breached. This includes the risk of identity theft, financial loss, or other harm caused to the individuals.

Additionally, the duration of the breach and the measures taken to mitigate the damage are also taken into account when assessing the severity of the breach. The business may face hefty penalties and legal action if a breach is deemed severe.


The Complexity of Ransomware and GDPR Compliance

On the surface, ransomware may not appear to impact GDPR compliance. After all, ransomware blocks access to maliciously encrypted files until the victim pays the ransom. However, modern ransomware strains have grown far more sinister. Today’s sophisticated attacks paint a target on data.

Ransomware has evolved and often leads not only to a loss of productivity but to the theft of sensitive data. Some forms of ransomware allow deeper penetration into internal resources, opening backdoors, stealing sensitive data, and allowing attackers to view sensitive information before it is encrypted selectively.

Once this sensitive information is accessed or extracted, it becomes a security incident that has violated the rights, privacy, and freedoms of individuals referenced by the stored data. At this point, ransomware has caused a breach associated with GDPR, leading to mandatory reporting for the business involved.

What are the Differences Between Compliance and Security?

Compliance and security are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct differences. Compliance refers to adhering to specific regulations or laws, such as GDPR. Security, on the other hand, refers to protecting against all threats, including those not covered by regulations. In the case of ransomware, compliance with GDPR is necessary, but more is needed for complete security.

Attackers Use GDPR to Their Advantage

Attackers understand the costs associated with GDPR non-compliance for a company. There was a reported case of cybercriminals discovering an unsecured MongoDB database and threatening to leak the data and report the impacted companies if the victim did not pay. These criminals were hoping that companies would pay off their extortion demands rather than deal with the threat of potential GDPR fines that may exceed €20 million or 4% of global revenue.

This situation highlights the conundrum that companies with GDPR-controlled data face when handling ransomware demands. Is it better to silently pay off the criminals and sweep the incident under the rug or follow the law and report the incident, which may come with crippling fines and publicity? Even if a company attempts to pay off attackers, there is a significant risk that attackers stole data and could use it against them in future extortion demands. There is no reason to trust that a criminal who has threatened you once would not attempt it again.


Proactive Solutions to Eliminate Ransomware

Fortunately, organizations can avoid managing the fallout of a GDPR breach from ransomware. Organizations can stop the threat by using proactive solutions to eliminate ransomware before attackers can get their hands on data. Modern anti-malware solutions help organizations mitigate the ransomware threat by detecting it based on its behavior rather than a collection of signatures requiring constant updating. These behavior-based solutions monitor key indicators of ransomware infections down to the hardware resources.

Avoiding the Fallout of a GDPR Breach from Ransomware

Ransomware is a time bomb that can hit any business at any moment, and the consequences of an attack can be devastating. GDPR compliance is critical for any organization storing the data of EU residents or citizens. Ransomware can cause a breach associated with GDPR, leading to hefty penalties and legal action.

By being proactive and using the right solutions, businesses can avoid the costly fines associated with a breach under GDPR. Sotero and other modern anti-malware solutions offer behavior-based detection to eliminate the threat of ransomware before it can cause harm, ensuring that businesses can rest easy knowing their data is safe and secure.

Sotero: A Purpose-Built Solution for the Cloud

Sotero is purpose-built in the cloud for the cloud. It protects cloud resources against ransomware, eliminating the threat of it spreading to internal resources that are mapped to it.

Rather than using a legacy signature-based approach, Sotero offers behavior-based anomaly detection to create a comprehensive ransomware solution. Using advanced machine learning, it creates usage and access baselines across your cloud infrastructure, monitoring and flagging suspicious activity.

Sotero ransomware protection can detect malware at the earliest stages of an attack, cutting off access, logging access, and generating alerts before the malware can take hold. Using an early prevention path, your organization eliminates the risk of sensitive data exfiltration, avoiding the costly fines associated with a breach under GDPR.

Learn more about how Sotero can prevent ransomware from causing a GDPR compliance failure.

As businesses worldwide become increasingly reliant on technology to store and process data, the threat of cyberattacks has increased. One such attack, ransomware, has become a pervasive threat to businesses of all sizes.

Ransomware can cause organizations severe financial and reputational damage. It can even put them at risk of violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this article, we will explore the impact of ransomware on GDPR compliance and the proactive solutions businesses can use to avoid the fallout of a breach.


What is GDPR, and why is it important?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of regulations that affect any company storing the data of EU residents or citizens. Its purpose is to protect the personal data of individuals and give them control over how their data is used. GDPR requires companies to harden their infrastructure to prevent attackers from getting into their systems. It mandates that they inform the local data protection authority when personal data is compromised.

Are US companies subject to the GDPR?

US companies that store the data of EU residents or citizens are subject to the GDPR, meaning that any business, regardless of its location, that processes the personal data of individuals in the EU must comply with the regulation. Since few organizations can be certain of the citizenship held by those whose data they collect and store, it’s best to assume that you are subject to GDPR.

What is GDPR Compliance?

GDPR compliance involves implementing appropriate measures to protect the personal data of individuals, such as encryption and access controls. It also involves having a plan in place for responding to data breaches, including reporting the breach to the local data protection authority.


The Impact of Ransomware on GDPR Compliance

Ransomware is malware that encrypts a victim organization’s data and demands a ransom, usually monetary, in exchange for the decryption key. More advanced ransomware attacks may involve the attacker threatening to publish or sell the data if the victim does not pay the ransom. Either of these can lead to a breach of GDPR if the attacker gains access to personal data.

What are Data Breaches Under the GDPR?

A data breach under the GDPR is any unauthorized access to, destruction of, or alteration of personal data. GDPR mandates that businesses report any data breaches to the local data protection authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.

Ransomware is a prime way of having data extracted from an organization. Modern ransomware variants go beyond only locking resources, they now steal data themselves or open backdoors to allow attackers direct access to data. Creating backdoor access allows attackers to bypass most security controls, gaining access to the most sensitive data, especially that which may fall under GDPR.


data compliance,

data protection,

data regulations,

data security,



Subscribe to our Blog

Take a look at a truly encrypted future, with no data left unsecure.

Request a Live Demo.

Schedule a live one-on-one
demo of Sotero.

Book Demo