Ransomware: What REALLY happens if you pay the crooks?

Security

Governments and law enforcement hate it when ransomware victims pay the blackmail demands that almost always follow a ransomware attack, and you can understand why, given that today’s payments fund tomorrow’s cybercriminality.

Of course, no one needs to be told that.

Paying up hurts in any number of ways, whether you feel that hurt in your head, in your heart or even just in the pit of your stomach.

I was happy to pay up for a job well done,” said no ransomware victim ever.

However, it’s easy for people who aren’t looking down the wrong end of the cybercrime barrel to say, “You should never, ever pay. You should let your entire business implode, and let everyone in the company lose their job, because that’s just the price of failure.

So, if your back’s against the wall and you DO pay up in the hope that you’ll be able to restart a business that has ground to a total halt…

…how well will it all go?

Guess what? You can find out by tuning into a fun but informative talk that we’re giving twice this week.

Catch us online on Wednesday 23 June 2021 at the SC Annual Digital Congress, at 14:15 UK time (UTC+1), or on Thursday 24 June 2021 at the Sophos Break a Hacker’s Heart online event, at 11:00 UK time (UTC+1).

You need to register, but both events are free to join. (They’re both 100% virtual, given that the UK is still in coronavirus lockdown, so feel free to attend from anywhere.)

We’ll give you a clue by sharing a key slide from the talk:

As you can see, paying up often doesn’t work out very well anyway, even if you have no ethical qualms about doing so, and enough money burning a hole in your pocket to pay without flinching.

And remember that if you lose 1/3 of your data, like 1/2 of our respondents said they did, you don’t get to choose which computers will decrypt OK and which will fail.

Murphy’s law warns you that the laptops you could have reimaged easily enough will probably decrypt just fine, while those servers you really meant to backup but didn’t… probably won’t.

We’re going to try to make the talk amusing (as amusing as we dare be when talking about such a treacherous subject), but with a serious yet not-too-technical side.

We’ll be giving some tips you can use both at work and at home to reduce the risk of getting ransomed in the first place.

Both talks are live, not pre-recorded, so we’d love you to bring along your questions: you can Ask Us Anything (about ransomware, that is) in the Q&A at the end of each session.

If you can’t make the talks, or even if you can, please take a look at the survey from which our data was drawn.

This report gives some fascinating insights into which countries and industry sectors are most at risk (spoiler alert, everywhere, and everyone):


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