Ransomware attacks have been on the rise for years. The software necessary for these attacks are more sophisticated, anonymous currencies like Bitcoin are more prevalent, and companies are collecting more data, creating a perfect storm for bad actors looking to make money off of security lapses. These scams take several forms. The group could lock workers out of their devices, delete important data and offer to restore it upon payment, or steal data and threaten to release it to the public. When people are victims of this kind of scam, the hacker offers to delete the data if the victim pays the group. Some companies take the offer–but the hacker rarely delivers on their end of the deal.
Nearly half of all ransomware attacks include the threat to publish stolen data. This was not always the case. Previously, companies with a secure backup of their data could restore their data and ignore the hacker’s threats. The threat of releasing data removes any leverage the company would have from a backup. In addition, a company can never have a full guarantee that their data was deleted. Both sides of the interaction know this, so why do companies pay? Research suggests that fear of the public’s response to a data breach is a major factor. The backlash against companies who have lost sensitive data to hacks in the past has been severe. This public pressure combined with hope for a return to before the security breach took place is part of what pushes companies to make deals that are not in their best interest.
So what should you do if a ransomware attack breaches your company’s security? First of all, do not engage with the hackers. Their goal is to make money, not to help you. Second, contact a legal expert to understand what liability you might have, and what your options are. Finally, invest in your security. Once data has been stolen, it is difficult to get back to ‘normal’. Prevention is key to keeping you and your data safe. If you or your company are in need of increased security, you can always reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.