FBI Director Christopher Ray has urged state-owned companies and other victims of cyberattacks to avoid paying ransom, fearing that the only thing he can do is encourage cybercriminals to increase future attacks.
“In general, we discourage ransom payment because it encourages more attacks of this kind and, frankly, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will get your data back,” Ray told the US Senate Credit Subcommittee.
The Justice Department has revealed that it was able to help Colonial Pipeline recover about $ 2.3 million in ransom money it paid into cryptocurrencies for hackers – a cyberattack that led to widespread fuel shortages in the East Coast.
The FBI was able to recover this money because it had a private key that it could use to unlock a bitcoin wallet in which most of the money was. It was not clear how the FBI obtained the key. Bitcoin seizures by the federal government are relatively uncommon, but authorities have increased their experience in monitoring the flow of digital money.
The director of the FBI stressed today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is recording more and more complex types of attacks and that cyber thieves are demanding larger sums of money. “We have seen the total amount of money paid triple over the last year or so,” Ray said. He added that businesses and local authorities that fall victim to redemptive attacks should consider contacting the FBI as soon as possible and not waiting. “When they do, there are many things we can do,” he said. “Sometimes, through other work we have done, we may have the decryption key and be able to help the company unlock its data without having to pay the ransom,” he concluded.