In recent years and months, ransomware has become a growing crisis in the United States and globally. It has targeted both the private sector and government agencies with no preference for industry, organization size, or scope–everyone is at risk. The main goal of the recently formed task force is to disrupt the cyber attackers’ core business model to stop the constant attacks once and for all.
Who’s in the task force?
The coalition was formed by the IST (Institute for Security and Technology). The IST comprises over sixty members, including individuals from government agencies, cybersecurity vendors, software companies, nonprofits, academic institutions, and financial services companies. The heavy hitters in the coalition include Europol, Amazon, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.K.’s National Cybersecurity Centre, and big-name private sector actors such as Cisco, FireEye, Microsoft, and Amazon.
What are the first steps of this coalition?
In their first week, the coalition created a comprehensive framework to address incoming threats presented to the Biden Administration. The framework includes creating a reporting framework, managing the ransom negotiation-and-payment process, seizing gangs’ crypto-wallets and infrastructure, and specifically targeting cryptocurrency exchanges that fail to implement anti-money laundering measures (source).
These first steps mark an overarching goal to create a complete, comprehensive strategy to stem the ransomware tide.
How is the strategy going to be different from past attempts?
This most recent strategy attempts to disrupt the entire ransomware ecosystem by getting to the core of their financial incentive. The framework created by this notable coalition is targeting the whole criminal ecosystem surrounding ransomware. How? 1) By disabling hosting services that facilitate ransomware campaigns, 2) by centralizing expertise for handling cryptocurrency markets and cryptocurrency seizure, and 3) by requiring companies to disclose their ransomware incidents and their ransom-payment plans to the U.S. Treasury Department.
While the framework presented by the coalition shows early promise, implementation remains a challenge as with all past attempts at a solution. Success with this solution requires compliance across both the private sector and government agencies–a challenge in and of itself. The most critical question in this framework will be complete and early adoption by both private and government sectors alike. It remains to be seen whether this coalition will be successful in stopping the global ransomware crisis.