The U.S. National Security Council held a two-day virtual meeting starting October 13, local time, where more than 30 countries agreed to participate in the Biden administration’s “Anti-Ransomware Initiative” focused on curbing the use of cryptocurrencies to pay for ransomware. use, take action against attackers, and enhance the resilience of industry and other networks.
According to a senior government official, the participants came from all over the world, including NATO, European Union member states, specifically Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Officials from India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the European Union will also be present.
White House National Security Advisor Jack? Jake Sullivan described it as a gathering of “like-minded” governments that agreed there was an urgent need to protect citizens and businesses from ransomware. “No country, no organization can solve this problem,” he said in his opening remarks.
The official said the meeting will discuss issues of national resilience, disrupting the payment ecosystem that supports ransomware, and joint action by allies. India, Israel, the UK and Germany will lead the panel discussions. Officials said the opening plenary session will be open to the media, while follow-up discussions on opening day and Thursday will not be made public.
The official said concrete measures would “absolutely” be announced after the meeting. On the 14th local time, “we will share the details of the next step”.
The official said the plan “builds on” the Biden administration’s efforts in ransomware and securing critical infrastructure from ransomware attacks, as well as President Biden’s emphasis on working with international allies. “This meeting is the best demonstration of how we can work with our allies,” the official told reporters Tuesday during a preview meeting.
The official emphasized the administration’s message that even as the U.S. government and allies are working to disrupt adversary activities and use new tools to track cryptocurrency misuse, efforts must be accelerated to secure private sector and government networks.
“I’m very hopeful about this international cooperation effort,” the official said, noting that there is strong interest from global partners in areas such as “virtual currency tracking” and information sharing, which are involved in efforts to combat crime.
The official did not specify why Russia did not receive an invitation, but did not reveal why. The absence of an invitation this time “does not impede their future opportunities for engagement.” There are other avenues the US could use to discuss ransomware with the Kremlin, the official said.
Russia did not receive an invitation, a sign that the United States is choosing the right time to engage more hostile states in discussions of tensions in the conflict domain in cyberspace. In international forums, Russia and the United States often find themselves battling for leadership on cyber issues, but rarely agree.
Russia was negotiating on another track and was not invited to the meeting, the official said. The U.S. is in “direct engagement” with Russia about the ransomware issue through a “panel of experts” formed after Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said, adding that through the The “active discussions” held by the group have prompted Russia to take “some steps”.
“We’ve communicated our expectations and we’ve seen some steps taken by Russia,” the official said, adding, “We’d like to see more follow-up.” I won’t reveal specific steps, (but we ) had a frank and direct discussion. “
The official did not rule out the possibility of including Russia in future multilateral discussions on ransomware and said there would also be opportunities to engage with other international partners. “This is not the first time we’ve been involved in international affairs, and it won’t be the last,” the official said.
The exclusion of a country so closely linked to the global ransomware phenomenon reflects the overall poor relationship between Washington and Moscow.
The issue is expected to be on the agenda when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov meet in Moscow this week.
China, the world’s second largest economy, did not appear on the list of participating countries!
According to U.S. government data, global ransomware payments topped $400 million in 2020 and over $81 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Actions taken by the Biden administration include imposing sanctions on a Russia-based virtual currency brokerage firm that officials said helped launder money for at least eight ransomware gangs and issuing security directives requiring pipeline companies to strengthen their cyber defenses.
The ransomware network that hit the Colonial oil and gas pipeline company in the United States in May. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which caused a natural gas shortage on the U.S. East Coast, is believed to be the work of a Russian cybercriminal gang.
In addition, the State Department announced a multi-million dollar reward for information on individuals involved in state-sponsored malicious cyber activity targeting transnational criminal networks. Sullivan said the networks were “carrying out attacks in multiple countries, in multiple jurisdictions.”