NEW DELHI: The White House on Wednesday said that India is one of the four countries that have volunteered to organise and lead specific thematic discussions at the first-of-its-kind international meeting to counter ransomware. The meeting will be convened by the US President Joe Biden’s administration and will lay out a four-part strategy to address the challenges posed in the cyberworld.
The two-day meeting, which concludes on Thursday, brings together ministers and senior officials from over 30 countries and the European Union to accelerate cooperation to combat ransomware.
It builds on President Joe Biden’s leadership in rallying allies and partners to combat the shared threat of ransomware.
“While the US is facilitating this summit, we do not see it as primarily a US endeavour. We are, indeed, pulling other countries together,” said a senior administration official.
“Many governments have been essential in organising the meeting, and four countries in particular have volunteered to lead and organise specific thematic discussions: India for resilience, Australia for disruption, the United Kingdom for virtual currency, and Germany for diplomacy,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The White House official outlined a four-part framework for coordinating a multi-agency operation. First and foremost, disrupt ransomware infrastructure and actors. “We’re bringing the entire force of the US government to destroy ransomware operators, networks, banking infrastructure, and other facilitators,” added the official.
The second component of the plan is to increase resilience in order to withstand ransomware attacks. “As we try to destroy criminal ransomware networks, we must also address our own weaknesses so that we are not easy targets,” the official explained.
“Third, we’re looking at the usage of virtual money to launder ransom payments. We’re exploiting existing tools and gaining new ones to track and intercept ransomware proceeds,” the official said.
“Finally, we will leverage international collaboration to disrupt the ransomware ecosystem and target safe havens for ransomware perpetrators,” the official concluded.
Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UAE, and the UK are among the countries taking part in the two-day meeting.
According to a White House information sheet, ransomware events have interrupted key services and businesses worldwide, affecting schools, banks, government offices, emergency services, hospitals, energy firms, transportation corporations, and food companies. Ransomware attackers have attacked businesses of all sizes, no matter where they are situated.
The global economic losses caused by ransomware are substantial. Ransomware payments topped over USD 400 million globally in 2020 and USD 81 million in the first quarter of 2021, demonstrating the financially motivated nature of these actions.
According to the White House, the Administration is collaborating closely with international partners to address the common threat of ransomware and galvanise global political will to combat ransomware activities, as evidenced by recent G7 and NATO joint statements, as well as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) efforts. According to the administration, it will continue to promote for greater membership in, and implementation of, the Budapest Convention and its principles.
Furthermore, US departments and agencies continue to work with countries to improve their capacity for dealing with ransomware threats, including capacity building that promotes cybersecurity best practises and combats cybercrime, such as trainings on network defence and resilience, cyber hygiene, virtual currency analysis, and other training and technical assistance to foreign law enforcement partners to combat criminal misuse of information technologies.
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