Ransomware continues to be a massive problem for businesses and governments, and when hackers take data hostage, organizations are turning to negotiators.
The negotiators attempt to scale down the hackers’ financial demands, arrange the cryptocurrency payments, and help with data restoration, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The negotiations are a race against time for both sides, Eric Friedberg, co-president of insurer Aon PLC’s Stroz Friedberg cybersecurity business, told the Wall Street Journal.
For hackers, the more prolonged negotiations take, the more likely the organization will find a workaround to the hackers’ encryption. For the organization, the length of time their IT systems are down can be a matter of life and death.
“Typically, what you’re balancing is the speed at which you need to get the key versus the price you want to pay for it,” Friedberg told the WSJ.
Demand for negotiators has jumped as ransom demands continue to increase.
Ransomware negotiating firm Coveware Inc. told the WSJ the average ransom payment in the second quarter of 2020 was $178,254, up 60% compared with the first quarter.
Experts say there is no typical profile for ransomware negotiators, who range from technical specialists to former law enforcement officers.
The FBI advises against paying ransoms because hackers may not provide the right tools to decrypt data. However, John McClurg, chief information security officer for BlackBerry Ltd., says many hackers want companies to recover.
McClurg told the WSJ that taking the money without providing a decryption key means victims are unlikely to pay in the future.
Read more at wsj.com (pro subscription is required).
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