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

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.

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Only If Ransomed Data Cannot Be Recovered

Businesses that have a proper recovery strategy in place and maintain continuous backups to the minute can ensure that hackers aren’t able to hold them hostage, according to Sri Mukkamala, Ivanti’s senior vice president of cyber products. In the absence of such a strategy, Mukkamala said paying the ransom provides a razor-thin hope that the victim will be able to get its data back.

If an organization is unable to recover its data on its own, Mukkamala said the company’s security leader should recommend to the board of directors that the organization pay the ransom. From there, Mukkamala said the board must decide if it’s worth millions of dollars to possibly get a decryptor key or if there’s an alternate path the company can take to stay afloat.

Companies can most likely avoid paying a ransom if they have incident response, incident recovery and business continuity plans in place prior to a security incident, Mukkamala said. Those plans should detail how the company plans to transparently communicate with law enforcement, key stakeholders and employees while an attack is taking place even if the facts of the campaign aren’t fully known, he said.

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