Ransomware: the role of the cyber-negotiator

Cyberattacks targeting businesses are on the rise, in all sectors of activity. In an attempt to limit the damage, cyber-negotiators are taken advantage of. Explanations.

What is a ransomware or “ransomware” in English?

Ransomware is a malicious computer program which aims to obtain from the victim the payment of a ransom. Ransomware attacks are among the tools used by cybercriminals or “hackers”. In fact, most ransomware encrypts system data using cryptographic mechanisms, making it impossible to consult and use it. In other words, the hacked computer or smartphone no longer works. He is completely blocked. The only potential way for the victim to decrypt the data is to pay a ransom. However, there are no guarantees.

This practice, which is reminiscent of a virtual hostage, is constantly increasing. Note that the machine can be infected following the opening of an attachment, after clicking on a malicious link in emails, or sometimes simply by browsing a compromised website. Anyone can be the target of ransomware, including an individual. However, companies and institutions remain the most affected.

The role of the cyber-negotiator

Some of them choose to call on a cyber-negotiator, also known as Cyber ​​Ransom Negotiator. The role of this professional is to negotiate with cybercriminals in order to reach an agreement and limit the damage. Generally contacted in an emergency, the cyber-negotiator must identify the profile of the attacker by analyzing every detail, then use various strategies, both technical and psychological, in order to lower the ransom price, or even to cancel the request. It often operates with the utmost discretion, sometimes even bordering on legality.

Its success rate is difficult to assess insofar as there are necessarily consequences. Rare are the situations where the company comes out 100% winning. As for “soft skills” (behavioral skills), the profession requires a sharp mind, great rigor, flexibility and diplomacy. It is also necessary to demonstrate adaptability, versatility and be naturally comfortable with new technologies.

Cyber-protection, a major challenge

In recent years, cyber attacks have multiplied, even going so far as to target health establishments. According to the National Agency for Information Systems Security (Anssi), a 255% increase in reports of ransomware attacks was observed in France in 2020 compared to 2019. Today, every business should expect to be the victim of a cyberattack. We must prepare for it through crisis scenarios and hire staff in charge of cybersecurity. Another way is to focus on prevention. For example, entities must ensure that they regularly and systematically apply security updates to their systems. They are also advised to keep their anti-virus software up to date, not to open emails, attachments and other suspicious links. Finally, it is advisable to make backups very regularly, to use sufficiently complex passwords and to avoid browsing on insecure and illicit sites.

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Ransomware: the role of the cyber-negotiator

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