The Department of the Treasury released an advisory (see full advisory here) to companies regarding potential fines for sending ransomware payments related to malicious cyber-enabled activities.
Ransomware is a form of malicious software (“malware”) designed to block a company’s access to their own computer system or data by cyber criminals encrypting data or programs. Once this is accomplished, these criminals will attempt to extort ransom payments to decrypt the information and restore the victim company access to their systems or data.
OFAC enforces sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, and international narcotics traffickers.
Demand for ransomware payments has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as cyber actors target online systems that U.S. persons rely on to continue conducting business. In the advisory, the Treasury Office makes it clear that if a ransomware payment is made to an entity that is on the OFAC list of sanctioned entities, those involved in facilitating the payment can face significant fines.
Protect your Bottom Line: If your company becomes the victim of a ransomware attack and is incapacitated, it is the responsibility of the victim company and/or third-party consulting firms assisting them to contact OFAC prior to facilitating any payments to cyber criminals.
If your company is unsure of your ability to recover from a ransomware attack, UHY Consulting can help you develop a proactive, comprehensive incident response plan that includes developing your backup strategy, enhancing your patch management, increasing your incident detection and response capabilities, and taking other necessary steps to help ensure your business can respond to and recover from a ransomware attack and avoid any OFAC fines.