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The Hidden Dangers of Ransom Payments in Cybersecurity


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The Hidden Dangers of Ransom Payments in Cybersecurity:

Paying hackers may seem like a quick fix in the face of a ransomware attack, but cybersecurity experts are sounding the alarm, warning that it sets perilous precedents with far-reaching consequences for future targets.


1. Dangerous Precedents:

Dr. Steve Kerrison, a cybersecurity senior lecturer, emphasizes that paying ransoms not only funds organized crime but also validates criminal acts, turning hackers into potent tools for cyber-extortion. Shahnawaz Backer, a senior solutions architect, adds that compliance may brand organizations as easy targets, increasing the likelihood of future attacks.


2. Escalating Threats:

Paying ransoms might inadvertently fuel the rise of ransomware operations, providing a financial incentive for attackers to target more entities. Recent cases, such as Lockbit's strategic revisions, reveal that hackers adapt their tactics based on perceived profitability.


3. Financial Support for Criminal Enterprises:

Ransom payments perpetuate a cycle of financial support for criminal enterprises. Ryan Flores from Trend Micro notes that each payment subsidizes approximately nine future attacks, even if only a small percentage of victims comply. Additionally, there's no guarantee that paying will secure the return of stolen data or prevent its potential leakage.


4. Doubly Damaging Consequences:

Dr. Kerrison warns that paying the ransom can be "doubly damaging" as some ransomware groups proceed with their threats even after receiving payment. Recent incidents, like Dolly.com's alleged payment and subsequent data publication, underscore the unpredictability of outcomes.


5. Escalating Demands:

Threat actors may escalate their demands in future attacks if they know companies are willing to pay. This creates a scenario where the cost of recovery remains unchanged, as proper incident response and security measures are still necessary, according to Mr. Flores.


6. Alarming Statistics:

Analysts report that around 80% of surveyed victims choose to pay ransom to protect their data. The increasing prevalence of ransomware attacks, coupled with the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model, is driving up the number of victims.


7. What Companies Should Do:

Experts advise companies to seek professional opinions before deciding on a course of action. Rather than succumbing to the pressure of a ransom, organizations should focus on implementing a zero-trust framework and a comprehensive response strategy to mitigate damage. Prioritizing data backups and considering regulatory obligations are crucial steps in safeguarding against the potential fallout of paying a ransom.

In conclusion, the convenience of paying a ransom may seem tempting, but the hidden dangers and long-term consequences make it a risky proposition for companies navigating the treacherous landscape of cybersecurity threats.


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reference: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/cyber-money-heist-ransomware-lockbit-cybercriminals-ransom-icbc-cyberextortion-attack-3929676


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