Companies and organizations that are victims of ransomware attacks shouldn’t pay hackers to unlock their data and should quickly contact law enforcement, which opens up the possibility of creative solutions, FBI Director
“It is our policy, it is our guidance from the FBI, that companies should not pay the ransom,” Wray told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing Thursday.
U.S. companies and government agencies are reeling from recent ransomware attacks that have disrupted critical services, from a major oil pipeline to a beef producer and hospitals. The attacks have ignited a national debate over whether victims should pay ransom, which can reach millions of dollars.
“The Biden administration basically gave a wink and a nod to paying off the thugs,” Representative
At a separate hearing Thursday in the Senate, two nominees for top cybersecurity jobs in the Biden administration said they, too, believed companies shouldn’t pay hackers’ extortion demands.
“It is not appropriate to pay ransom,” said
The White House’s National Security Council issued a statement Wednesday saying “the administration has been very clear: Private companies should not pay ransom. It encourages and enriches these malicious actors, continues the cycle of these attacks, and there is no guarantee companies get their data back.”
But last month
Wray said companies under attack should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation as soon as possible so that law enforcement can help take action in response, potentially obtaining encryption keys used by hackers.
Referring to ransomware and other cyberattacks, Wray said, “The scale of this is something I don’t think the country has ever seen anything quite like it, and it’s going to get much worse.”
The Justice Department recouped 63.7 Bitcoin that hackers stole from Colonial. Because of the declining value of Bitcoin since the Colonial ransom was paid, the U.S. seizure in late May amounted to $2.3 million, just over half the ransom paid weeks earlier.
Dividing along partisan lines, lawmakers pursued other controversies in questioning the FBI chief.
Democrats cited apparent intelligence failures leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President
Republicans questioned Wray on whether what they called Biden’s “open border” with Mexico is leading to a surge of criminals and potential terrorists coming across the southern border. Wray said he would have to get back to the lawmakers with specific information.
(Updates with comments from Biden cyber nominees starting in sixth paragraph)
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