31 Jul 2021

Bryce Webster-Jacobsen: negotiating with ransomware hackers

From Saturday Morning, 8:10 am on 31 July 2021
Ransomware negotiator Bryce Webster-Jacobsen from American cyber-security firm GroupSense

Photo: Supplied / GroupSense

Ransomware attacks are not a new phenomenon, but they have increased exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic. Cybersecurity experts attribute the surge, in part, to the shift to people working from home and away from the safe perimeters of corporate networks.

The attacks, often carried out by ransomware gangs, see hackers use malicious software to break into and encrypt a company’s data, then hold it ransom until the victims pay up.
In New Zealand, we’ve seen attacks on major public institutions - like the Waikato DHB - where a ransom wasn’t paid.

In the US, the Biden administration is discouraging companies from paying ransoms, but the reality is not so simple. Bryce Webster-Jacobsen is the Director of Intelligence for Virginia-based cybersecurity firm GroupSense and one of their lead ransomware negotiators.