While attackers in protected jurisdictions continue to get massive sums for continuing to breach organizations, the ransomware threat will only continue to grow.
Major ransomware attacks that have disrupted businesses and caused supply chain ripples in the US economy have led to renewed calls for making it illegal to pay a ransom to cybercriminals.
In June, a month after oil and gas transport network Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS USA paid massive ransoms of $4.4 million and $11 million, respectively, to recover from attacks, FBI Director Christopher Wray told public companies that they should not pay cybercriminals for the digital keys to decrypt their data. “In general, we would discourage paying the ransom because it encourages more of these attacks, and frankly, there is no guarantee whatsoever that you are going to get your data back,” Wray said during a US Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing on June 23.
Some security experts are urging the government to go further and, despite the difficulties in enforcing such a law, make it illegal to pay ransoms to ransomware groups. Mike Hamilton, founder and chief information security officer at Critical Insight, a cybersecurity service provider, says that recent events have hardened his opinion and increased his support for such an option.