If you decide to pay the ransom, expect to pay handsomely. Ransoms have increased 82% since 2020, according to Panda Security, and the average fee grew to $570,000 in the first half of 2021. (That amount was usually asked of companies, not individuals, though.) Pierson recommends seeking technical help or enlisting a “carveout” (i.e., someone other than yourself) to communicate with the cybercriminals using a fake email address — but warns that this may not be the end. “It’s important for people to realize that even if you pay the ransom, the hacker may not send you a decryption key, and, even if they do, they may just turn around and attack you again because they know you will pay,” Pierson says.
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