To Pay or Not to Pay: The Ransomware Debate

Uh oh! It looks like ransomware has yet again reared its ugly head. This time, the victim is Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. According to reports, the county is refusing to pay the attacker $23,000 in Bitcoin for the release of their systems.

With ransomware on the rise, many companies are asking if they should pay these extortion fees. Others are worried this might set a bad precedent for dealing with cybercriminals.

It's a complicated issue.

However, if you want to mitigate the repercussions of a ransomware attack,, you need to invest in a cyber insurance policy. Your provider helps you cover the costs of cyber extortion and network repair, and gives you advice for handling the situation.

CyberPolicy looks at the ransomware debate below. Hopefully, you'll never have to deal with this situation. But ignorance isn't an option in today dangerous online climate. Stay smart and stay safe.

A Crook's Ransom

What is ransomware? And how does it affect businesses? Ransomware is a form of malicious encryption. It typically weasels its way into your network or device through a phishing email or sneaky download. It then locks the device from the proper user. Only the attacker has the key to unlock it, who demands a fee for the key.

But that's not all. Some cyber crooks take things a step farther by promising to delete or expose vital data if payment is not rendered quickly. Others will raise the price over time.

Regardless of the form of the ransomware attack, it is still very harmful to organizations. In some cases, it can lead to excessive business downtime, reputational damage, or even life-threatening circumstances.

This is why some companies simply pay the fee.

Hackers actually anticipate the price mark for their attacks. In other words, a ransomware hack may demand $30,000 in Bitcoin for the release of your network but the downtime you suffer could cost as much as $75,000. In this way, it might be in your best interest just to cough up the crypto cash.

Then again, there are concerns that paying hackers is tantamount to negotiating with cyber terrorists. The more companies that foot the bill for criminal acts, the more action criminals will take to make money. It's as simple as that.

Or is it? Some companies have had great success negotiating with hackers. Zomato, for instance, was able to avoid a major data breach by simply contacting the attacker. The would-be cybercriminal agreed to not expose any information in exchange for a bug bounty. This was a smart move by Zomato in that it diffused the situation and made their network stronger.

Of course, this was a data breach and not a ransomware attack. The aforementioned attacker could choose not to spill the proverbial beans. This isn't always the case for ransomware though.

For instance, it is speculated that the NotPetya ransomware that hit healthcare providers earlier this year cannot be fully removed by paying the fee. This modified form of Petya malware cannot revert its own changes to the master boot record, and therefore causes permanent damage to the device.

So, even if the hacker wanted to keep their end of the deal, they wouldn't be able to. And how do you know they will play fair, even if they can? The cybercriminal holds all the power, which is what's so troubling about this debate.

So do you pay the fee or refuse? It really comes down to what you think is best for your company. However, CyberPolicy strongly recommends contacting your cyber insurance policy provider for their advice and input.

Don't have a cyber insurance policy? Visit CyberPolicy for your free quote today! You don't have to suffer the consequences of a cyber attack alone.

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