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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Cyber threats are increasing at a rapid pace, FBI director Christopher Wray warned on Thursday.

Why it matters: Multiple federal agencies and U.S. businesses — including meat producers and oil pipelines — have been breached this year, raising alarm for the nation's cybersecurity.

What he's saying: "We think the cyber threat is increasing almost exponentially," Wray said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. "Ransomware alone, the total volume of amounts paid in ransomware has tripled over the last year, we're investigating 100 different ransomware variants."

  • "We're obviously investigating scores and scores and scores of nation state intrusions and other kinds of cyber criminal attacks, so the scale of this is something that I don't think this country has ever really seen anything quite like it and it's going to get much worse."

Details: Wray discouraged companies from making ransomware payments, warning that victims of attacks don't always get back their data, even after paying.

  • Wray said the "most important part" in preventing ransomware attacks is to "communicate and coordinate with law enforcement right out of the gate.”

The big picture: The Biden administration has urged businesses to implement stronger measures to prevent ransomware attacks, and the Department of Justice announced this month that it will treat the attacks with similar protocols it uses for terrorism.

Go deeper: Sen. Warner calls on Congress to act on cyberattacks

Go deeper

JBS says it paid $11 million ransom after cyberattack

Photo: Chet Strange/Getty Images

JBS USA on Thursday announced it had paid hackers "the equivalent of $11 million in ransom" to resolve a cyberattack that forced the meat company to shut down.

State of play: The payment was made in bitcoin, per the Wall Street Journal. The company said it made the decision to pay the ransom after consulting with "internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts."

9 mins ago - World

Putin denies Russia is behind cyberattacks ahead of Biden summit

In an exclusive interview with NBC's "Today," Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia is waging cyber warfare against the United States and refused to guarantee opposition leader Alexei Navalny — whose name he would not say — will leave prison alive.

Why it matters: Cyberattacks by Russian intelligence and Russian-speaking criminal groups, as well as the Kremlin's attempted assassination and jailing of Navalny, are among the topics President Biden is expected to raise at his Geneva summit with Putin on Wednesday.

2 hours ago - Health

Novavax says COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective in Phase 3 trial

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Novavax, a Maryland biotechnology company, announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 90.4% effective in its Phase 3 trial, including against coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The study of 29,960 participants in the U.S. and Mexico found the shot was safe and highly effective, paving the way for the FDA to clear a 4th vaccine for emergency use by the end of the year.

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