WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. national security advisers this month will bring together officials from 30 countries with plans to tackle the growing threat from ransomware and other cybercrime, President Joe Biden said on Friday.
An online session hosted by the White House National Security Council will also aim to “improve collaboration between law enforcement agencies” on issues such as “the illicit use of cryptocurrency,” Biden said in a press release.
The Biden administration has elevated the cybersecurity response to the highest levels of the administration following a series of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize the United States’ energy and food supply.
Meat producer JBS SA paid $ 11 million here to stop an attack on its systems that halted production and is believed to have originated from a criminal group with ties to Russia.
Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $ 5 million to a hacker gang believed to be based in Eastern Europe here to regain access, some of which was later taken back by US law enforcement.
Both companies paid the ransoms in bitcoin.
The ransomware works by encrypting the victims’ data. Typically, hackers offer the victim a key in exchange for cryptocurrency payments of up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
The Biden administration hopes that its new informal group, which it calls the Anti-Ransomware Initiative, will step up its diplomatic efforts which have included direct talks with Russia as well as with the NATO alliance and the United Nations. rich countries of the Group of Seven (G7).
The administration has increasingly focused on blocking what it calls China’s “malicious cyber activity”, accusations Beijing has denied.
It was not immediately clear which countries would attend or when exactly the meeting would take place.
A White House official said he was particularly keen on tackling “the misuse of virtual currency to launder ransom payments” and intended to “investigate and prosecute ransomware criminals” , many of which are anonymous and attack institutions in other countries.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose and Doina Chiacu, editing by William Maclean