Too Many Ransomware Victims Are Paying Up

By Taylor Armerding

Paying a ransom to cybercriminals to unlock your files only encourages them to do it more, experts say. But many victims haven’t left themselves any choice—and it’s fueling ransomware’s explosive growth. Prevention is the key, and sometimes you can get your files back without paying.

Taylor Armerding writes, “If you are a victim of ransomware, don’t pay!

“That has been the mantra of the FBI for several years now—one that was forcefully echoed by one of the nation’s highest-profile security bloggers—Brian Krebs—in a recent post.

“But based on the statistics, either a lot of people aren’t listening, or it’s a bit more complicated than that. The reality is that the success of ransomware isn’t just increasing. It’s exploding.

“The Ponemon Institute reported in a study released last month that 48% of businesses victimized by ransomware said they paid.

“According to the FBI, the collective amount of ransoms paid in all of 2015 in the U.S. was $24 million. In 2016, it had jumped to $209 million in just the first three months—which means if the growth curve continued it would easily have topped $1 billion by the end of the year.

“Of course, that was just what was reported to the FBI and just in the U.S. The Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) reported that the global ransomware damages in 2015 just from CryptoWall3 were $325 million.

“The latest version, CryptoWall4, caused an estimated $18 million in damages to 36,118 victims since its discovery last year, the CTA reported.”

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