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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden Administration has formed a multi-agency task force to address the growing threat posed by ransomware attacks, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Driving the news: Several ransomware attacks have plagued U.S. companies in recent months.

  • President Biden on a call with Vladimir Putin last week demanded the Russian leader crack down on cyber gangs operating in Russia, warning the U.S. would "defend its people" against ransomware attacks.

Details: The interagency group, which has been active since April, regularly convenes with the White House, providing frequent updates on its efforts to prevent critical breaches by cybercriminals.

  • The task force's priority actions include building an international coalition to facilitate cooperation to address ransomware threats.
  • It will also explore working with public and private partners to promote reporting of ransomware incidents and payments.

What they're saying: "We're looking for an enduring impact on the ransomware that's plaguing companies around the world, governments around the world," a senior administration official told reporters, per CBS. "No one thing will achieve that."

Worth noting: The State Department announced Thursday that its Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program is offering a compensation of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification of suspected cybercriminals.

Go deeper: Russian ransomware group's dark websites mysteriously go down

Go deeper

Google creates cybersecurity team to help respond to attacks

A Google logo at the company's offices in Berlin in August 2021. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google announced Tuesday it has created a new cybersecurity team to help respond to and prevent cyberattacks against governments, critical infrastructure managers and other crucial companies.

Why it matters: It said the creation of the team is in response to the recent surge in cyber and ransomware attacks, including the ransomware attempt against the Colonial Pipeline in May and the sprawling SolarWinds breach, which was uncovered in December 2020 but likely existed for months before its discovery.

Updated 53 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.