With the latest advancements in technology also comes the looming threat of cyberattacks like ransomware. This particular type of cybercrime happens when a malware restricts the user from accessing their devices. To regain access, they are asked by the hackers to pay a ransom.
But when it happens, should you pay a ransomware attack? According to the FBI, paying the ransom is not a recommended action because there is no guarantee that the stolen data can be recovered. However, companies must be prepared to make up for the damages caused by not answering the hacker’s demands.
How Ransomware Works and Why It’s Thriving
Ransomware enters the network or device in three ways: access gain through a system vulnerability, through deception, or through a rogue employee. Once a malicious software is introduced to the network, it encrypts all the data to make them inaccessible. You can regain access by paying the ransom, but restoring all the data from the backup is also an option – it will depend on the recovery team’s ability.
Most attackers aim to obtain financial gain. Studies suggest that one of the main reasons why ransomware thrives is because more victims are choosing to pay the ransom. Most hackers also release sensitive business data to intimidate the victims into paying up quickly.
Types of Ransomware
Before deciding to pay an attacker, it’s important to know the type of ransomware used first. This will allow the IT team to assess whether the files can be recovered safely, or a ransom payment is necessary. Here are the three main types of ransomware according to severity:
Scareware refers to tech support scams and rogue security software. Victims will receive a pop-up message about malware discovery on their device. They will be asked to pay tech support for solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Ignoring these messages will result in more pop-up windows, but the files on the device remain safe.
A real cybersecurity software will not ask customers for payment this way. If you have the legitimate software installed on the computer, it will no longer ask you to pay for a specific service because it’s already paid for when the license was purchased.
Screen Lockers are a lot more serious because they freeze the screen and lock the victim out of the device. Upon opening the computer, the monitor will display a full-size window accompanied by an official-looking government seal. The window contains a message which says illegal activity has been detected and a fine must be paid.
Remember that the FBI or Department of Justice will not freeze you out of the computer or demand payment. If you are a suspect of illegal activity such as piracy and other cybercrimes, they will use legal channels to investigate.
Although all types of ransomware are detrimental to your data, encrypting ransomware is notorious for being the “worst of all evils”since it steals or encrypts files. Hackers who use this ransomware will demand payment to decrypt important files or provide access to the device. What makes this ransomware dangerous is that there is no known system restore or security software that can solve it.
One solution is to pay the ransom. However, there is almost no guarantee that the cybercriminals will return the files or leave the company unscathed. There’s also the possibility that the access to the victim’s device or network is already sold on the dark web.
Should I Pay for Ransomware?
Deciding whether or not to pay for the ransomware demand should be taken seriously. All the risks and stakeholders should be considered before coming up with a solution.
Factors to Consider Before Paying the Ransom
Before paying the ransom or starting the recovery with a team, consider these factors first:
- Ransomware Policies in Place – Check the organization’s policy on paying ransom first. If it has a written policy against paying the ransom, then that’s what you should do. However, it’s also important to consider whether the higher-ups are going to tolerate spending at least 10 times more resources on recovery.
- The Severity of Possible Damages – Evaluate the current and future damages first before deciding to pay the ransom. Did they only manage to attack a small part of the company or they did get to the heart of all business operations? Can the team prevent further damage? How well can the damages be contained? These are only some of the important questions to ask in order to assess the severity of the damage.
- Restoration Capabilities – Even with an effective backup, it’s still important that the restoration capabilities of the team are fast enough to avoid additional damages caused by disruption. They should also check all the files to prevent hackers from regaining access through restored files that became infected.
- Senior Management Support and Staff – Before deciding to pay the ransom or not, make sure that the senior management and board will support the decision. During the ransomware attacks, it’s also important to have all the staff’s hands on deck and ready to help the organization’s recovery.
- Cybersecurity Insurance Coverage – Check the cybersecurity insurance coverage first to see if the attack can be covered by the provider. Most of the time, attacks from social engineering are either not covered or have reduced damage payment.
What Happens If I Pay?
Even if the victim pays the ransom, there is no guarantee that the files will be recovered. There’s also a chance that the hackers will provide a wrong decryption key or not give one. Ultimately, most victims are retargeted by other hackers because they have already demonstrated willingness to pay the ransom if they are threatened.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay?
If victims decide not to pay for the ransom, they can expect prolonged downtime, as well as a great loss in files and resources. There’s also the possibility of closing down the business if the damages are irreparable.
If a company becomes infected, they can approach “No More Ransom,” a free service created to help victims of ransomware recover their files. While it is not a fool-proof remedy, it offers a chance to unlock the infected device.
Avoid Ransomware Attacks with Cyber Protection by Abacus
Prevention is always better than cure. Protecting the devices with multi-layered cybersecurity plans can help keep ransomware from attacking.
With comprehensive security protection paired with well-executed backup and disaster recovery plans, Abacus can help minimize ransomware attacks on your system. Talk to us now to learn more about the IT solutions we offer. Call us at (856) 505 – 6860.