White House Hosts Summit on Combating Ransomware

White house ransomware summit news article

The White House is hosting a two-day summit to discuss the rise of ransomware and other cybercrimes. The summit, part of the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, begins on Monday.

Officials from 37 countries, the European Union (EU), and over a dozen international companies will participate in the discussions.

The first edition of the summit took place virtually last year. This year’s summit sees seven new countries added to the ranks. The participants are expected to release a joint statement at the end of the meeting on Tuesday, November 1.

U.S. President Joe Biden will not be present at the summit. However, several high-ranking U.S. officials are expected to participate. This includes FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

A senior U.S. official said during the meeting, participants will look at how ransomware attacks have evolved, the illegal use of cryptocurrencies to launder ransom payments, and discuss ways to combat this threat.

“So fundamentally, we’re doubling down, building on the work done throughout the year, deepening that partnership, and discussing how to be even more effective given the threat has evolved,” the official said.

The participants at the meeting will also create a set of cyber “norms and rules” that will support the fight against ransomware and allow authorities to hold ransomware operators accountable.

Crypto Money-Laundering on the Agenda

High on the agenda at the ongoing International Ransomware Initiative Summit is the use of crypto for illegal purposes, like receiving ransom payments.

While this issue was highlighted at last year’s summit, the U.S. government has taken a more active role in recent months. Earlier this year, it shut down the popular cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, which led to the recovery of $30 million worth of stolen tokens.

“You know, when Bitcoin became more widely used, we saw a huge jump in ransomware because it was the way to move money across borders. It’s a borderless threat, and we have to tackle it in a borderless way,” the senior U.S. official said.

Clamping down on illicit crypto transactions is one of the key ways the government is planning to disrupt ransomware operators and build resilience. Ransomware attacks have gone up sharply in recent years. In the last 18 months, there have been over 4,000 attacks outside the U.S.

IT and Cybersecurity Companies to Attend Summit

One of the unique things about the ongoing summit is the participation of the private sector. The official said partners of the Counter Ransomware Initiative recommended companies from across the world, and ultimately thirteen were chosen. These companies include Microsoft, Crowdstrike, Mandiant, Flexxon, Cybersecurity Coalition, and Palo Alto.

The companies will answer three crucial questions during the discussions. What should the government be doing about ransomware? How can the private sector contribute to the fight against this threat? And how can the government and the private sector work together?

Earlier this month, the White House unveiled an outline of the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy. It emphasized the importance of improving U.S. cyber resilience, focusing on quantum-resistant encryption and strengthening the country’s defense against ransomware attacks.

Do you want to learn how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks? Check out our article on ransomware.

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