News Report Technology
November 01, 2023

No Ransom Payment for Cybercriminals, Says U.S. Led International 40-Nation Coalition

A coalition of 40 nations led by the United States has taken a resolute stance against the rising tide of ransomware attacks and has started an initiative, aptly named the “International Counter Ransomware” Initiative.

The aim is to combat the surge in cybercrime by pledging “not to pay ransoms” to malicious hackers and working diligently to dismantle the financial infrastructure that fuels these cybercriminals’ operations.

The urgency of this alliance’s formation is underscored by the staggering growth of ransomware attacks globally, as with a significant 46% of these attacks afflicting the United States, the nation has taken a pivotal role in spearheading this international coalition.

U.S. deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, Anne Neuberger elucidated the gravity of the situation during a virtual briefing with reporters, stating, “As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow.”

For those unfamiliar with ransomware attacks, they typically involve cybercriminals infiltrating an organization’s systems, encrypting sensitive data, and then demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. These criminals often go to extreme lengths, including stealing sensitive data and threatening to publish it online if the ransom is not paid, putting organizations in a precarious position.

FBI’s Early Warning for “Dual Ransomware Attacks”

In a private industry notification dated September 27, 2023, the FBI issued a stark alert regarding the looming threat of dual ransomware attacks, where the same organization faces repeated targeting in quick succession.

The FBI’s notification highlights a concerning pattern, where cyber threat actors execute two distinct ransomware attacks in close temporal proximity. These attacks entail the deployment of two different ransomware variants, compounding the risk and impact on the targeted entities.

Furthermore, the FBI emphasizes the diverse array of ransomware tools being wielded in various combinations, raising the spectre of dire consequences for companies in their crosshairs.

The utilization of dual ransomware variants presents a sinister blend of data encryption, exfiltration, and substantial financial losses incurred through ransom payments. Notably, subjecting an already compromised system to a second ransomware attack could inflict severe harm on victimized organizations. The stakes are high, and the need for heightened vigilance in the face of this evolving cyber threat landscape is paramount.

Recent high-profile ransomware attacks in the United States have served as a stark reminder of the threat these cybercriminals pose. Major companies, such as casino operator MGM Resorts International and cleaning products manufacturer Clorox, have fallen victim to crippling attacks in the past two months, and both are still grappling with the repercussions of these disruptions.

Tackling the Growing Threat

The International Counter Ransomware Initiative presents a multifaceted approach to tackle this growing threat. One of its primary objectives is to undermine the criminals’ funding mechanisms through the sharing of critical information related to ransom payment accounts.

This information will be shared through two dedicated information-sharing platforms: one initiated by Lithuania and the other jointly established by Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Participating countries within the alliance will collaborate on the creation of a “black list,” managed by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which will compile data about digital wallets used for transferring ransomware payments. The initiative intends to utilize artificial intelligence to scrutinize blockchain data with the aim of identifying and tracking illicit funds associated with ransomware operations.

The importance of this global effort is further emphasized by data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, which reported in July that the volume of cryptocurrency payments to ransomware attackers is on track to reach its second-highest annual total on record.

The initiative, with its extensive international backing, not only seeks to address the immediate threats posed by cybercriminals but also aims to disrupt the financial underpinnings that make such criminal enterprises lucrative.

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About The Author

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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Kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv

Kumar is an experienced Tech Journalist with a specialization in the dynamic intersections of AI/ML, marketing technology, and emerging fields such as crypto, blockchain, and NFTs. With over 3 years of experience in the industry, Kumar has established a proven track record in crafting compelling narratives, conducting insightful interviews, and delivering comprehensive insights. Kumar's expertise lies in producing high-impact content, including articles, reports, and research publications for prominent industry platforms. With a unique skill set that combines technical knowledge and storytelling, Kumar excels at communicating complex technological concepts to diverse audiences in a clear and engaging manner.

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