“It is our policy, it is our guidance, from the FBI, that companies should not pay the ransom for a number of reasons,” Christopher Wray testified under questioning from members of the House Judiciary Committee. Ransomware boom comes from gangs that operate like cloud-software unicorns — ‘a truly incredible business model’ Besides the fact that such payments can encourage additional cyberattacks, victims may not automatically get back their data despite forking over millions, “and that’s not unknown to happen,” Wray said.
The FBI’s director told lawmakers Thursday that the bureau discourages ransomware payments to hacking groups even as major companies in the past month have participated in multimillion-dollar transactions aimed at getting their systems back online.
In ransomware attacks, hackers lock up and encrypt a victim’s data and demand a payment in order to return it. They have proliferated in scale over the past year, targeting not just hospitals and police agencies but also critical infrastructure and vital industries. Some recent major corporate targets have responded by paying the ransom, fearing that a prolonged shutdown of their businesses could have catastrophic consequences for the country and disrupt crucial supply chains. Colonial Pipeline, which transports about 45 percent of fuel consumed on the East Coast, last month paid a ransom of 75 bitcoin — then valued at roughly $4.4 million — in hopes of getting its system back online.
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