Ransomware is one of the most dynamic, constantly changing forms of cryptocurrency-based crime. As of February 2022, we’ve identified just over $720 million worth of ransomware payments in 2021 and that number keeps growing. But what happens when a business encounters ransomware?
Last week Bryce Webster-Jacobsen, Director of Intelligence Operations at GroupSense, presented to a packed audience at Chainalysis Links. Every year, Chainalysis Links brings together leaders and experts from all parts of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Bryce presented “Locked and Extorted: Responding and Recovering from Ransomware” on stage with Lindsey Chiesa, Computer Scientist at the FBI, and Brian Carter, Senior Cybercrimes Specialist at Chainalysis. Bryce, Lindsey, and Brian walked through what happens from the moment an active threat presents itself all the way through to resolution.
Bryce focused on the business of ransomware, as well as lessons he’s learned as a renowned ransomware negotiator.
Watch Responding and Recovering from Ransomware
The Business of Ransomware
Unfortunately, ransomware has grown into a thriving business and can negatively impact your business. The impact extends farther than the ransomware payment, it impacts every avenue of your business from revenue loss to business disruption. During his presentation Bryce gave the example of a distribution company that lost millions and millions of dollars per week because their systems were encrypted, and they couldn’t schedule deliveries or send out any of their invoices.
Ransomware impacts businesses with:
Revenue Loss: The average ransomware payment increased by 80% in 2021.
Brand and reputation damage: 60% of small and mid-sized businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months.
The loss of private employee information: Nearly 80% of ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021 involved the threat of leaking exfiltrated data.
The loss of valuable data: 205,000 businesses lost access to their files in 2021.
Business disruption: The average duration of the downtime after a ransomware attack had increased from 15 to 22 days.
And legal consequences: Increased pressure from government to harden cybersecurity practices.
Bryce’s Lessons Learned in the Trenches
Bryce, as well as the ransomware negotiation team at GroupSense, have established twelve easy-to-follow lessons if in fact your organization is faced with a ransomware threat. Here are the top five:
Do Not Panic: You have options. This is recoverable. Revert to your plan and execute.
Do Not Engage: Don’t let anyone go to the site / respond. It can start a timer. Tone, language, style, and content can significantly impact odds and costs negatively.
Don’t Shut Down: Don’t shut down machines, this can cause file corruption, and hinders the incident response process.
Bring in a Professional Responder: Bring in a professional that has firsthand experience with the entire ransomware process.
Engage IR: Bring in incident response assistance to understand the scope of the attack and to ensure the threat actors no longer have access.
About Bryce Webster-Jacobsen
Bryce is the Director of Intelligence Operations at GroupSense, a leading provider in Digital Risk solutions. Bryce leads the day-to-day intelligence activities of GroupSense's Analyst and Research teams producing finished, tailored intelligence for our diverse clients. Prior to GroupSense, Bryce worked in strategic international education initiatives while pursuing OSINT training and investigations, primarily focused on studying extremist movements, as a passion project.