An alliance of forty nations has united under the leadership of the United States to combat the growing threat of cybercrime.
In a bold move, a high-ranking White House official introduced the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, which seeks to dismantle the financial lifelines that enable hackers to carry out their criminal activities.
Forty Nations Unite Against Ransomware Threat
In a significant move to combat the growing menace of ransomware attacks, an alliance of forty countries plans to sign a pledge never to pay ransoms to cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks have been on the rise worldwide, with the United States experiencing a particularly devastating impact, accounting for 46% of such attacks.
Anne Neuberger, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser in the Biden administration for cyber and emerging technologies, highlighted the gravity of the situation during a virtual briefing, stating, “As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow.”
The International Counter Ransomware Initiative seeks to disrupt the funding mechanisms of these cyber criminals by enhancing information sharing related to ransom payments. Two information-sharing platforms will be established, one by Lithuania and another jointly by Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Partner countries will collaborate on creating a “black list” via the U.S. Department of Treasury, which will include information on digital wallets used to transfer ransomware payments. Moreover, artificial intelligence will be deployed to analyze blockchain data to identify illicit funds.
Ransomware Crypto Payments Soar to $449.1 Million in H1 2023
The high volume of cryptocurrency payments to ransomware attackers has added urgency to the need for action. According to a July report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, crypto payments to ransomware attackers reached $449.1 million in the first half of 2023, marking an increase of $175.8 million from last year. If this trend persists, ransomware attackers are poised for their second-best year on record.
Ransomware attacks involve hackers encrypting an organization’s systems and demanding ransom payments in exchange for decryption keys. Often, these cybercriminals also steal sensitive data, using it as leverage to extort victims and threaten to leak it online if payments are not made.
In recent months, high-profile ransomware attacks have disrupted major companies, including casino operator MGM Resorts International and cleaning products manufacturer Clorox, both of which are still grappling with the aftermath of these attacks. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently confiscated Bitcoin worth $22 million from an individual involved in ransomware attacks.