The White House has brought together dozens of nations as well as representatives from big tech companies for a two-day summit aimed at figuring out how to tackle the global ransomware problem.
“When you look at government networks, as we know — Costa Rica; Montenegro; Bank of Zambia; the city of Palermo, Italy, — this is really a global problem. So, we’re seeing the pace and the sophistication of the ransomware attacks increasing faster than our resilience and disruption efforts,” said a senior administration official said, noting there have been a wide range of attacks against the healthcare sector from the Irish National Health Service through to hospitals in US.
Ransomware attacks are in the spotlight: in September, Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest school district in the US, was hit by ransomware.
Per Associated Press, companies participating in the meeting include Crowdstrike, Mandiant, Cyber Threat Alliance, Microsoft, Cybersecurity Coalition, Palo Alto, Flexxon, SAP, the Institute for Security + Technology, Siemens, Internet 2.0, Tata – TCS and Telefónica.
It’s the second International Counter Ransomware Summit after last year’s gathering to discuss the scourge of ransomware. At least year’s summit, the private sector was not invited. As the White House acknowledged, the private sector has insight into threats, the actors, networks used, and mitigation strategies.
“As we know, ransomware is an issue that knows no borders,” said the official. “And it’s only getting more challenging.”
White House officials answered questions about Russia – not invited to the event but somewhere that ransomware gangs have based themselves – but noted that the issue was “less about Russia and more about how we, as a set of countries, make it harder, costlier, and riskier for ransomware actors to operate.”
The US links the rise of ransomware more closely with cryptocurrencies and said it’s seem a “huge jump” in ransomware because money could be moved more fluidly across borders due to cryptocurrencies.
“It’s a borderless threat, and we have to tackle it in a borderless way,” White House officials said.
“We designated one of the largest crypto mixers that was responsible for a great deal of the money laundering, for example, of DPRK, North Korea-related funds,” the White House official said.