Nov 1, 2022 - Technology

37 governments band together against ransomware

Photo of the White House

Photo: Alex Wong/Newsmakers

A group of more than three dozen governments have pledged to not harbor ransomware criminals within their borders and stand up a new threat-sharing task force following a two-day summit at the White House this week.

The big picture: The two-day summit marked the second annual meeting — and first in-person event — of the Counter Ransomware Initiative, which aims to establish norms across the 37 participants on how to fight and defend against ransomware.

  • The participating governments were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the U.S.
  • A group of 13 companies also participated in the summit for the first time, including CrowdStrike, Microsoft and others.

Driving the news: The participants released a set of planned actions Tuesday, laying out how the governments hope to work together to fight the global ransomware threat.

  • Among the actions, the governments plan to work towards developing a framework to help prevent and respond to ransomware; actively share and publish reports detailing threat information and trends in the ransomware ecosystem; and undertake biannual counter ransomware exercises to help prepare for future attacks.
  • The initiative also plans to establish a voluntary International Counter Ransomware Task Force, led by the Australian government, that will encourage threat information sharing and better coordinate international actions aimed at tracking ransomware criminals' financial activities.
  • Participating governments also pledged to "work together to increase political costs on countries that harbor and enable ransomware actors."

Threat level: The number of companies facing ransomware attacks continues to grow.

  • A recent SpyCloud report found that ransomware affected 90% of IT professionals at large companies in the last year, compared to 72.5% the year before.

The intrigue: Ransomware is a borderless problem, so governments banding together to share their investigative resources and establish both domestic and foreign policies targeting cybercriminals is the best solution they have to mitigate the threat.

Yes, but: The impact of the initiative's actions is limited, as of now, seeing as ransomware criminals mostly hide out in non-participating countries, like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.

  • Many of those countries' governments are also known for either enabling or working with ransomware gangs.

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