White House to Host Meeting on Ransomware and Cryptocurrency Illicit Use

America’s top national security advisers will bring together officials from 30 countries this month to tackle the growing threat of 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.

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 paid $ 11 million to stop an attack on its systems that halted production and is believed to come 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 to regain access, part 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 malicious China’s cyber activity, accusations Beijing has denied.

It was not immediately clear which countries would attend or when exactly the meeting would take place, Reuters reported.

A White House official said he is particularly keen on tackling the misuse of virtual currency to launder ransom payments and intends to investigate and prosecute ransomware criminals, many of whom are anonymous and attack institutions in other countries.

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