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FBI Director Wray urges companies to stop paying ransoms to hackers

Sports & GeneralJun 23, 2021 09:01PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray prepares to testify before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 23, 2021. Sarah Silbiger/Pool via 2/2

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI Director Chris Wray on Wednesday pleaded with public companies and other hacking victims to avoid paying ransom, saying he fears it will only embolden cyber criminals to ramp up future attacks.

"In general, we would discourage paying the ransom because it encourages more of these attacks, and frankly, there is no guarantee whatsoever that you are going to get your data back," Wray testified before a U.S. Senate appropriations panel.

The Justice Department has disclosed it managed to help the Colonial Pipeline Co recover some $2.3 million in cryptocurrency ransom it paid to hackers - an attack that led to widespread shortages at gas stations on the East Coast.

The FBI was able to recover those funds because it had a private key that it was able to use to unlock a bitcoin wallet holding most of the money. It was unclear how the FBI managed to access the key.

Bitcoin seizures by the federal government are relatively uncommon, but authorities have been stepping up their expertise in tracking the flow of digital money.

Wray said on Wednesday that the FBI is seeing increasingly sophisticated types of ransomware attacks and that cyber thieves have been demanding larger sums of money.

"We've seen the total volume of the money paid I think triple over the last year or so," Wray said.

He said companies and municipal governments who become victims of ransomware attacks should consider going to the FBI as soon as possible, and not wait.

"When they do, there's all kinds of things that we can do," Wray said.

"Sometimes through other work we've done, we might have the decryption key and be able to help the company unlock their data without having to pay the ransom," he added.

(This story has been refiled to add missing word in headline)

FBI Director Wray urges companies to stop paying ransoms to hackers
 

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Comments (5)
James Doan
James Doan Jun 27, 2021 6:41AM ET
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what we need is a national security policy and office to control all security aspect.
Hulon Dalo
Hulon Dalo Jun 25, 2021 4:39PM ET
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easier said than done. if your livelihood is at stake you'll want the problem to go away sooner and the easiest way is to pay the ransom. this is why ransomware is more of a psychological rather than technical or legal problem. just send drones to hunt down them preps already! take no prisoners, give no quarters!
David David
David9 Jun 24, 2021 1:17AM ET
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Well, if they don't pay then they lost their data... they can't afford to lose the data. Data is worth more than money.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Jun 23, 2021 6:19PM ET
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Maybe the FBI should hire some geeks ??
one two
one two Jun 23, 2021 6:19PM ET
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they are busy spying on americans citizens
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Jun 23, 2021 3:31PM ET
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FBI should do their job instead of being politcal arm
 
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