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How cybercriminals hold data hostage

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The FBI's Mike Christman says cybercrooks know governments and hospitals are likely to pay because they can't afford not to. Until his recent promotion, Christman was in charge of the FBI's cybercrime unit.

Scott Pelley: You're waiting for the day that somebody says, "We have the 911 system held hostage in a major city and we need $10 million today"?

Mike Christman: I hope that day never comes, but I think we should prepare for that possibility.

Christman says in 2017, 1,700 successful ransomware attacks were reported but he figures that's less than half. Most businesses, he says, would rather pay than admit they were hacked.

Mike Christman: I'm aware of one ransomware variant that affected all 50 states that had some $30 million in losses, and over $6 million in ransom payments. I would tell you that the losses are very significant, and easily approach a hundred million dollars or more just in the United States.

That ransomware variant he's talking about is the one that held Hancock Hospital hostage. It's called "SamSam" after one of its file names. Experts told Steve Long "SamSam" is unbreakable.

Steve Long: There was nothing that we could do to unlock those files. Our only choice was to wipe the system and hope that we had backups or to purchase the decryption keys.  

Scott Pelley: To pay the ransom.

Steve Long: Indeed. That is exactly what that means.


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