Security and IT

What Is Ransomware? And Should You Pay?

You may have heard in recent news about “Ransomware” – a plague that’s been literally holding businesses hostage over the past few years. Ransomware is a form of malware: harmful software that encrypts your files or system, preventing your ability to access them. Once these files are infected, attackers demand money—a ransom, if you will—in exchange for restoring access to your data. These crimes are more frequent than you might think; according to cybersecurity provider Symantec, there were more than 1,200 ransomware detections each day in 2017, trending 20% up in 2018 for enterprises.

Because the cost of system downtime is inflated, many organizations believe it’s much cheaper to just pay the ransom and get back to work.  However, the average total cost of a ransomware attack is $1.85 million, doubling what it costed in the past 12 months. According to law enforcement agencies and security professionals, when you’ve fallen victim to ransomware the last thing you should do is pay the ransom.

Why shouldn’t you pay hackers the ransom?

There are four good explanations why the experts believe you should never pay a ransom:

  • Paying the ransom is not always the end of your troubles. While a hacker may provide you with access to your files, they’ll likely leave malware behind, making it probable for them to re-infect your system or steal information.
  • Some hackers may not have the ability to decipher your files even if they wanted to because their malware is poorly coded, making decryption impossible.
  • There’s no assurance you will be given access to your files if you pay the ransom. According to the CyberEdge Group’s 2018 Cyberthreat Defense Report, only 19 percent of ransomware victims who paid the ransom actually got their data back. Those aren’t great odds. Consequently, by paying a ransom you’ll run the risk of losing both your files and your money.
  • Finally, hackers will use the money extorted from you to finance their ongoing criminal activity, making it possible for them to target other innocent people and organizations.

When you take all of this into consideration, it’s easy to see why experts try to persuade against organizations from giving in to a hacker’s demands and paying a ransom. This decision is much easier if you’re prepared for a ransomware attack by backing up your data, so the hacker doesn’t have the upper hand. Contact us today to learn more about how to mitigate the threat of ransomware and other security risks for your organization.

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