Re: Whither the gray hats?
"But it strikes me that the best way to fix the problem is to accept that the ransomware gangs are doing valuable work, and pay them for the work - as long as they inform the right people instead of using their access to lock stuff."
If that actually worked, most crime wouldn't exist. It's no different from saying that the best way to eliminate bank robberies is to employ potential robbers as security guards. The unfortunate fact is that while some people may be happy with a steady paycheck for doing a regular job, others would much prefer the jackpot from emptying the entire vault. No business can afford to pay enough to keep happy those who won't settle for anything less than everything.
Plus there's the obvious catch-22 situation - if you pay all criminals to work as security, then there are no longer any criminals and hence no reason to pay anyone to work as security.