Home / Headlines / FBI Now Says Don’t Pay Bitcoin to Ransomware Extortionists
3 min read

FBI Now Says Don’t Pay Bitcoin to Ransomware Extortionists

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:50 PM
Rebecca Campbell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:50 PM

The FBI has changed its stance on ransomware extortionists saying people targeted should refuse to pay the bitcoin ransom despite a previous statement from the FBI encouraging victims to pay a ransom.

At a recent Federal Trade Commission’s Fall Technology Series, a supervisory special agent for the FBI’s Cyber Division, Will Bales, said that businesses or individuals targeted by ransomware should refuse to pay the ransom, as reported in Dark Reading .

He said:

People have to remember that ransomware does not affect just one person or one business. It will more than likely move on and affect somebody else. And for those who pay the ransom, it only encourages them to extort the next person.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, ransomware attacks quadrupled in 2016 with an average of 4,000 per day. The FBI has previously revealed that ransomware costs amounted to $209 million in the first three months of this year. This is compared to a total of $24 million for the twelve months of 2015.

PhishMe research found that 93 percent of phishing emails now contain some form of ransomware.

The FBI Changes Its Advice

It seems that the FBI has had a change of heart regarding its advice with ransomware extortionists.

As previously reported by CCN.com, special agent at FBI’s Cyber and counterintelligence program, Joseph Bonavolonta, said:

The ransomware is that good. To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.

Victims are now being asked to contact the FBI with any information they have to help advance the FBI’s ransomware investigation.

No Immunity to Ransomware Targets

Earlier this year, CCN.com reported that a Canadian university had to pay a ransom amounting to $20,000 Canadian dollars worth of bitcoins to receive the keys to restore its data.

While three banks and a pharmaceutical company in India were targeted by ransomware extortionists who demanded a ransom in bitcoin last year.

A police department in Massachusetts also found itself the target of ransomware after the Melrose Police Department had to pay one bitcoin in ransom to regain access to its files.

Additionally, at the beginning of the year,  the Charity Commission in the U.K. issued an alert to all charities about an extortionist group demanding payments in bitcoin. The group, RepKiller Team, stated that if they didn’t receive bitcoin payments from £300 – £500, those targeted would face cyberattacks.

For now, the FBI seems to be issuing the correct advice.

Images from Shutterstock.