FBI Announcement: Paying The Ransom is a Bad Idea

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Hey Folks!

So late last year a quote was going around about a comment for the Special Agent in charge of the Cyber Intelligence program for a Boston branch of the FBI that mentioned how they advise users to just pay ransomware criminals because in many cases, getting the files back by any other method would have been impossible.

Now the FBI itself never officially made that claim and instead didn’t really give an opinion on whether or not to pay after a ransomware infection.  Naked Security did a good job covering this story and despite not having an opinion, the FBI did provide many possible protection measures to avoid ransomware infection in the first place.

Well last Friday, the FBI made a decision and not only did they officially inform the world that they agree, ransomware is getting worse, but also decided to tell folks to not pay the ransom, even if you do get infected.

The FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack. Said Trainor, “Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back—we’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.

Here at Malwarebytes, we always request that users hit with ransomware never pay the criminals, we say this for multiple reasons:

  • There is no guarantee of getting your files back, even if you pay
  • By paying the criminal, it reinforces the behavior of using this attack, ensuring that it will be used again
  • By making it appear profitable, criminals who might otherwise not be involved with ransomware are now learning how to use this tool to extort money from you and your loved ones.

The FBI’s latest statement mirrors our own feelings on the topic and we are glad they decided to announce it.

Look, getting hit by ransomware sucks, we know it just as well as you do (though hopefully you never will) but you don’t kick a grenade into your neighbor’s house just because you accidentally pulled the pin. Ransomware has been a serious threat for a few years now and it’s not going to go away, in fact it will only get worse from here.

Proactive protection is key, you need to backup your files, you need to run software that prevents malware from executing, you need to deploy even more security layers than before and be ready for an attack!

If you still have the mindset that you will never be hit by ransomware, that you know how to avoid it and you don’t need to protect yourself, then fine… Just think about what it would be like to have a grenade come in through your window and blow up your kitchen.

For those of you who are ready to take their protection to the next level, here are a few links that might help you get started. Thanks for reading and safe surfing!




For the last four years, ransomware has evolved into one of the biggest threats to cyber security that I’ve seen in a long time. Names like CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, and CTBLocker keep average computer users and IT security Jedis alike up at night. For good reason: Ransomware is cunning, effective, and proliferating, and the cyber security industry hasn’t really had an answer for it. But we’ve got one now.