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White House Hosts Summit to Counter Ransomware, Emphasizing No Ransom Payments

The White House hosts the Counter Ransomware Initiative summit, focusing on not paying hackers and leveraging AI to analyze blockchains.

Key Takeaways

  • The White House leads the third annual Counter Ransomware Initiative summit with 48 countries, the EU, and Interpol.
  • A significant pledge from most member states not to pay ransoms is a central focus of the summit.
  • An AI blockchain initiative aims to trace illicit funds used for ransomware payments.
  • The initiative promotes information sharing, collective defense, and support for countries hit by ransomware attacks.

The White House is taking a bold stand against ransomware attacks by hosting the third annual Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI) summit. With participation from 48 countries, the European Union, and Interpol, this year’s summit introduces several innovative strategies to combat the rising threat of ransomware.

White House Leads The Annual Counter

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technologies, Anne Neuberger, announced a pivotal development in the fight against ransomware. Most member states have pledged not to pay ransoms, signaling a united front against cybercriminals. This commitment aims to break the vicious cycle of ransomware attacks by eliminating the financial incentives for hackers.

In a bid to trace illicit funds used for ransomware payments, the CRI is launching an AI blockchain initiative. This cutting-edge technology will help identify and disrupt the financial infrastructure of ransomware operations.

Furthermore, the CRI will foster international collaboration through mentorship and tactical training programs. Israel’s assistance to Jordan in countering ransomware serves as a prime example of such initiatives.

To enhance rapid threat response, the CRI will implement a new information-sharing platform. Member countries will quickly exchange threat indicators, drawing inspiration from platforms developed by Lithuania, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. This collective effort aims to fortify global cybersecurity defenses.

Funds Used For Ransomware Payments

While most member countries have committed not to pay ransoms, not all 48 nations have signed this pledge. However, the administration remains optimistic about achieving a consensus, acknowledging that it is a significant undertaking.

The CRI will also share a “blacklist of wallets” through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This blacklist will track wallets involved in illicit fund movements, enabling the freezing or blocking of transactions associated with ransomware payments.

Anne Neuberger emphasized that ransomware knows no borders and has targeted institutions worldwide. She cited instances of ransomware attacks impacting the UK’s national health service, causing payment delays in Poland, and affecting a major African supermarket chain.

Highlighting the severity of the issue in the United States, Neuberger mentioned the Clorox ransomware attack, which disrupted production, and the Minneapolis Public Schools attack that exposed sensitive data of 30,000 students.

Additionally, Neuberger referred to a member state’s ordeal, Costa Rica, which suffered a series of devastating ransomware attacks. The U.S. responded with a $25 million infusion to bolster the country’s cyber defense efforts.

To Conclude

The Counter Ransomware Initiative’s pledge not to pay ransoms and its commitment to international collaboration mark significant progress in the ongoing battle against ransomware.

The use of AI blockchain technology to trace illicit funds is a promising development, and the information-sharing platform will bolster global defenses. However, achieving unanimous support for the no-ransom pledge remains a challenging endeavor. As ransomware continues to pose a global threat, this initiative serves as a beacon of hope for collective cybersecurity.