Pay the Hackers: the Surprising Solution to Ransomware Attacks
We can’t think of a single cop show or movie in which the FBI tells the kidnap victim to pay the ransom and move on with their life. So imagine our surprise when they told ransomware hostages to do just that.
In an astonishing admission, cyber-crime experts at the FBI and other sources have said publicly that sometimes coughing up a few hundred bucks to goons who have hijacked your computer is the simplest way to resolve a ransomware crisis.
The problem is simple—it can cost a lot less to pay the ransom than to try to solve the crime.
How Ransomware Crime Works
Computers get infected with ransomware at the alarming rate of over 40,000 a day—over 4 million in the first quarter of 2015 alone. Careless downloading of messages, photos, or apps is the source of most infections. When it happens, the malware spreads throughout your computer’s file structure and encrypts your files with an enormously complex scheme that is virtually impossible to break without the key. The blackmailer offers to sell you the key to recover your data for an untraceable payment in a currency like bitcoin. Fortunately, most extortionists deal in volume, so the ransom can be relatively small, from $20 to a couple hundred.
Report the Attack
Since the cyber-cops can’t prevent stupidity, they’ve acknowledged that the bad guys are winning, at least for now. But they encourage you to report any ransomware attacks to the FBI for investigation, and doing so helps them track down offenders and work on ways to prevent future attacks. There have been several successful prosecutions of ransomware crooks, both in the US and abroad, and more are sure to come.
Meanwhile, coughing up a bitcoin or two can be better than losing access to files or shutting down your business. And interestingly enough, there seems to be at least some honor among this group of thieves. Pay what they ask, and they’ll almost always send you the decryption key to put you back in business.
Prevent & Reduce the Risk of Malware Infection
Common-sense security practices can go a long way toward preventing ransomware intrusions and other hacks. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recommends the following steps to reduce risks:
- Always use antivirus software and a firewall from a reputable source and keep it up-to-date
- Enable pop-up blockers to eliminate a favorite intrusion point for hackers
- Back up and maintain offline copies of your data. It may save you from having to pay a ransom
- Don’t open emails or attachments from sources you don’t recognize as legitimate
- Stay away from suspicious or questionable websites
- If you think you’ve been attacked, disconnect from the internet and report the attack to the FBI.
The Unleaded Group can’t keep you from communicating with shady people or your employees from ignoring your safe computing rules, but we can build websites with protocols that make intrusions less likely and quickly alert you if they occur.
Access to your company data should be guarded as closely as if it were a pile of cash. When you trust your web operations to the Unleaded Group, you can be confident that we take security seriously. We’re ready to work with you to advise and assist you with internal security measures and will host your offsite data in a secure environment.
The Unleaded Group has best-practices security measures in place for our servers and our facilities. Our building has controlled access and surveillance systems 24/7. Cameras record activity within the building as well, and access to our server room is permitted only to authorized personnel with specific passcodes. State-of-the art detection and backup systems protect data both onsite and in the cloud.
The Unleaded Group is a global leader in high-performance, secure web development. Visit our website for a look at the many ways we can fuel your internet marketing success. Check out our e-commerce blog for ideas on how your site can stand out and safely perform at its best.
We’re always happy to send you a free quote for designing or managing a site that does the job you need. Or call us toll-free today at 855.865.3233 to learn how the Unleaded Group can add horsepower to your business and simplify your life in the process.