How to negotiate with ransomware hackers?

Matthias Schranner, a former FBI hostage negotiator and CEO of the Schranner Negotiation Institute, defines 5 steps on how to negotiate with ransomware hackers.

Become a skilled negotiator and learn new deal making and contract negotiation techniques to be used if you company has fallen victim to a cybercrime.

Step 1: Never underestimate cyberattacks and be prepared to negotiate

Remote working has become a norm in our society; however, flexibility comes with a price – rapidly increasing cybercrime cases.

Cyberattacks cause revenue losses and lead to reputational damage and legal liabilities. If your company has fallen victim to a ransomware attack, start negotiating immediately.

“Once you realize your data or system has been breached, you must start negotiating immediately. The more time you take to respond to a demand, the more agitated the hacker will get” – Matthias Schranner, founder and chief executive of Schranner Negotiation Institute for The National

Have you developed a contingency plan in case your company becomes a victim of a ransomware attack? And if so, is negotiation part of that plan?

There are two ways to address a cyberattack: 

  • Avoid negotiations and comply with all the demands (which typically costs a company far more money and reputational damage than expected since the vast majority of ransomware attacks are not random but carefully planned and executed).
  • Start negotiating with your “invisible” opponent.

Important: Always negotiate to achieve your goal, not against your opponent. Do not let yourself be emotionally involved in a negotiation process or take the attack personally. Instead, stay focused on creating a bond with your opponent. 

The right time to negotiate

The decision to negotiate is a gradual process. Consider all the benefits of negotiating now versus postponing it. Experience shows that it is better not to ponder or hesitate for too long. As long as you avoid making any commitments at an early stage of the negotiation, you will always have an advantage. 

Time is a crucial element in any negotiation

Do not lose control over time. Plan your negotiations, including how much time you want to spend on every step. Your preparation should follow a strict schedule, the so-called “Rhythm of Negotiation” (RON). It determines what should happen when and where. RON provides the framework for your negotiation tactics. You should never allow your negotiating partner to dictate the timing. You must be the one to lead the negotiation. 

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