Forty countries agree to stop paying cyberattack ransoms at US summit


Forty countries agree to stop paying cyberattack ransoms at US summit

Forty countries participating in the Counter Ransomware Initiative have agreed to stop paying ransoms demanded by cybercriminals, according to a senior White House official on Tuesday.

Led by the US, the Counter Ransomware Initiative is an alliance launched in 2021 that now includes 48 nations, including Canada, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Japan, the UK, Kenya, Uruguay, Israel, and Ukraine.

This year’s meet, hosted in the White House, has solidified a plan to counter the concerning increase in cyberattacks. The US is apparently the target of 46% of all ransomware attacks, according to the US deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, Anne Neuberger.

“As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow,” she told reporters in a virtual briefing.

Neuberger cited the recent cyberattack on cleaning product giant Clorox and attacks on Minneapolis public schools while describing the impact that ransomware has had on the US. This coincides with data collected by Recorded Future, which suggests that Belgium, the UK, Australia, and Canada have also been top targets for ransomware attacks in 2023.

Man charged for facilitating Netwalker ransomware that stole 5,000 bitcoin

Along with a pledge to stop giving in to ransom demands, the Counter Ransomware Initiative aims to increase information sharing to better tackle these crimes, by harnessing artificial intelligence. Israel and the United Arab Emirates will join forces to create an information-sharing platform, along with another made by Lithuania. A ‘black list’ of digital wallets used for ransomware payments will be shared with participating nations, Neuberger added.

The Counter Ransomware Initiative will also include “innovative mentorship and tactical training” programs for newer members.

Eight countries in Counter Ransomware Initiative have yet to pledge

According to Neuberger, the Counter Ransomware Initiative is meant to be “an international partnership that spans most of the world’s timezones.”

However, not all members have agreed to the pledge. A remaining eight nations have not agreed — but according to a senior administration official, the alliance is in the “final throes of getting every last member to sign up” (via The Record).

Security researchers estimate that the global costs of ransomware attack will increase from $20 billion in 2021 to $71.5 billion by 2026.


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