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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.

Only If Human Lives Are In Jeopardy

Telling organizations to never pay a ransom is naïve if such a refusal puts human lives in jeopardy, which would often be the case for health-care and critical infrastructure companies, according to Secureworks Chief Product Officer Steve Fulton. Every hour that a hospital is unable to access its IT systems or internet-enabled medical equipment increases the likelihood of a patient death, Fulton said.

Decisions about whether or not to pay a ransom should consider the severity of the cyberattack, the industry the victim organization is in, how long it would take to mitigate with and without a decryption key, and the specifics of the company that was compromised, Fulton said. Ransom talks usually start at a very large number, but Fulton said victims are typically able to negotiate themselves a step discount.

 
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