Cyber security company Radware has released its 2018 Executive Application and Network Security Report, and for the first time in the survey’s five-year history a majority of executives reported paying a hacker’s ransom following a cyber attack.

Merrill Research surveyed 232 executives worldwide on behalf of Radware, and 69 percent said their company faced a ransom attack in the past year, compared with only 14 percent in 2016. Of those, 53 percent paid the ransom.

Two-thirds of executives (66 percent) reported a lack of confidence in their network security, admitting that their networks are penetrable by hackers.

Beyond more frequent ransom payments, organizations are facing significant consequences and concerns related to cyber attacks, the study said. In a sign that consumers will not accept data breaches, 41 percent of executives noted their organization faced legal action from customers following a breach.

At the same time, executives said their biggest concerns associated with cyber attacks are customer loss (41 percent) and brand reputation loss (34 percent).

The complexity of networks and changing attack vectors have led companies to invest in automated and machine learning security tools, the report said. Over the past two years, 71 percent of executives report shifting network security spending to investments in automated security.

More than 90% of executives report using multiple public and private cloud environments as part of their companies’ IT infrastructure, and most companies host up to 50 percent of their business applications in the cloud.

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