Thursday, August 1, 2019

A Divide in Ransomware Response Ethics

Local governments and municipalities are frequently targeted with ransomware attacks by cyber criminals who view government agencies as soft targets with potentially significant rewards. While leaders are unified in their abhorrence of this behavior, disparities exist when aligning on response plans. 

Some governments choose to pay the ransom, seeing it as the least expensive option available. Of course, this behavior makes other governments more vulnerable to a similar attack because it indicates that authorities are willing to pay criminals to restore access to their systems. 

In contrast, some local governments refuse to pay, a principled stance that can be more expensive in the long run. For instance, Baltimore authorities refused to pay a $75,000 ransom to regain access to its network, but full system restoration is estimated to cost $10 million, and other ancillary disruptions may cost $8 million more. 

The message is clear and simple: all organizations need to do everything they can to prevent a ransomware attack in the first place. Contingency plans like backups and cyber insurance are critical for responding to an attack, but employee awareness training and threat analysis services offered by cybersecurity experts can prevent ransomware attacks before placing your company in the precarious position of deciding on ransom payments.

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