POINT: Don't Pay
Ransom payments to cyber outlaws only encourage more cyber terrorists.
By Dan Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance.
Call it "ransomware;" call it "scareware;" call it what you will. If persons unknown to you are trying to take advantage of you and your business by locking up your computer system and demanding a ransom, the last thing you should do is pay them.
According to experts, no more than about 10 percent of those who have been victimized by hacking gangs who have seized their computer and demanded a ransom actually pay the ransom. Even that percentage is disturbingly high.
In this age of cyber-dependence, we are in the same boat that we climbed into when we climbed into cars. We became so dependent on them that we allowed ourselves to become conditioned to pay a mechanic almost any price to get our machine operational.
So, if we need to pay anyone in the event that our computer gets seized, we know that we can pay a technician to clean the computer up and remove the virus. Don't pay good money to a criminal who in many cases probably has no intention of unlocking your computer once he has gotten the money.
After all, when we're talking about computers we're not talking about a loved one, although some technology consumers are so addicted to digital that they do profess "love" for their various gadgets. In cases where criminals kidnap family members, or employees, we tend not to deliberate for too long.
Ransoms to free family members are paid as soon as they can be paid. The same is generally true in the case of ransoms paid to free our valuable employees and co-workers. But data? This is an entirely different matter.
Unfortunately, in this computerized day and age, we have fallen into a dynamic where our purse strings are to some degree leveraged by our dependence on technology. We have to spend much more than we would like to keep a machine operational because of our dependence on it.
The real solution is to take a step backward and lessen our dependence on digital. I am willing to do that because it is occurring to me that we are entering an area of risk in our cyber-dependency that outstrips the benefits we derive from technology.
But perhaps I would be one of only a very few of us who would be willing to step out of the line at the Apple Store and thus be saddled with the dubious moniker of "Luddite."
May 1, 2013
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