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Should Ransomware Victims Pay Up? Experts At Black Hat Speak Out

Michael Novinson

From the availability of backups and sensitivity of exfiltrated data to the health and safety consequences of nonpayment, here’s what companies must think about before forking over a ransom.

Companies That Pay Should Have To Publicly Admit It

Mandating public disclosure of ransom payments would serve as a psychological suppressant and cause companies to think twice before forking money over to cybercriminals, said Arthur Fontaine, NetWitness’ product and solution marketing manager. Requiring that ransom payments be reported to shareholders and the government would introduce another layer of complexity for companies considering payment.

Knowing that ransom payments can’t be made under the table would incent companies to invest in proactive defenses and incur up-front costs to harden their environments against ransomware attacks, according to Fontaine. “Nobody wants to see their company on the front page of The Wall Street Journal as having paid a ransom,” Fontaine said.

Organizations should consider the financial implications associated with downtime and negative publicity before deciding whether to pay a ransom, according to Fontaine. Mandating reporting of ransom payments would also spur organizations to adopt Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) best practices such as maintaining offline backups, Fontaine said.

 
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