Small and medium-sized business are prime targets for ransomware attacks. After breaching a business's computer network and encrypting the company's key files and systems, attackers will demand a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.

The pressure put on small and medium-sized businesses following a ransomware attack can be tremendous—the company may have no way to do business while its key files and systems are unavailable, and no way to recover without paying the ransom.

The decision to pay a ransom to hackers should not be taken lightly, though. Recent activity by the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) highlights the legal risk of paying a ransom if the recipient or a party facilitating the payment is subject to U.S. sanctions.

Companies should work closely with legal counsel and cybersecurity experts to evaluate risks and options before making any such payments. For a more in-depth discussion regarding ransomware and steps taken by OFAC, please review this article.