Lately, ransomware attacks have earned the status of the most nefarious cyber threat. Unlike traditional cyber attacks that mostly work in stealth mode to inflict their damages, this cryptovirological code works out in the open, notifying the victim repeatedly that their data has been locked down and they can recover their files by paying a ransom.
From federal agencies to private digital security experts, there is a general consensus that users must not pay a red cent to the attackers because it can persuade more ransomware operators. However, the ground reality is quite different and has many caveats attached to it.
For instance, it is said that with data backups you can avoid the exploitation at the hands of ransomware operators. However, actual cases tell us that the response of any enterprise depends on their promptness in dealing with ransomware infiltration regardless of data backups. There are two recent cases that demonstrate this point lucidly.
In December last year, some of the local government departments in Mecklenburg, the home to North Carolina’s most populous city, were targeted by ransomware. The attack affected the department of social services, tax assessor’s office and Park and Recreation department. Perpetrators of the attack asked for the ransom of $23,000, but administration refused to pay them as they had data backups. In the following days, the county’s IT department recovered several ransomware files with the help of those data backups. But it took weeks for authorities to recover the entire system.
It shows that the affected enterprises can survive without yielding to the demands of ransomware attackers, but they have to suffer with extended downtime.
Earlier that year Montgomery County in Alabama resorted to pay the amount of around $50,000 to ransomware attackers. Although they had data backup, but restoring it in the deadline given by the operators seemed improbable and hence they paid the ransom without risking the data loss of worth $5 million.
Both examples show that data backup is not the ultimate deterrent to ransomware attacks. Moreover, it also signifies that enterprises sometimes find ransom payment a better tradeoff to protect their high value data.
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