At a US-led summit, countries pledge to combat ransomware.


At a US-led summit, countries pledge to combat ransomware.

Following a Washington-led anti-ransomware summit on Thursday, over two dozen countries agreed to work together to combat the worldwide and rising threat posed by cyber-extortionists.

With the significant exception of Russia, the US convened the countries to unify and increase efforts to combat a transnational, on-the-rise, and potentially devastating cybercrime.

“Ransomware is a complex and worldwide issue that requires a coordinated response,” the joint summit statement read, adding that the countries “recognize the necessity for immediate action, shared priorities, and complementary efforts.”

These assaults entail getting into a company’s networks to encrypt data, then demanding a ransom, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, in exchange for the key to decrypt it.

Stronger digital protection and backups, as well as a coordinated effort to target the laundering of the assaults’ revenues, have been identified as critical measures in the fight.

“In taking measures against those guilty for ransomware activities affecting key infrastructure and public safety,” the statement continued, “we will evaluate all national tools available.”

The countries also agreed to cooperate in law enforcement operations, which are difficult to carry out since they transcend borders and require specialized capabilities, as well as in the application of diplomatic pressure.

Despite Moscow’s denials, Russian-speaking hacking organizations or those operating from Russian territory have been accused for the majority of recent ransomware assaults against the United States.

Russia was not invited to this “initial round” of negotiations, according to White House sources, but Washington has established a separate line of contact with Moscow on the sensitive subject.

The United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, the European Union, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, and others were among the roughly 30 countries that participated in the virtual meeting, which took place from Wednesday to Thursday.

During the summit, countries detailed their agonizing experiences with cyber-extortion, including Germany’s declaration of a digital “disaster” and Israel’s announcement of a cyber-blitz against a major hospital.

Washington has stepped up its efforts to combat an uptick in attacks, including the imposition of its first penalties against an online exchange where criminals are reportedly exchanging cryptocurrencies for cash.

The attacks on a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking industry, and the Microsoft Exchange email system highlighted the country’s infrastructure’s vulnerability to digital pirates.


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