40 Countries Vow Not to Pay Ransomware Hackers
In a gathering of 48 countries for the third annual International Counter Ransomware Initiative summit, the U.S. and allies are pledging to not pay ransomware attacks leveraged against their individual countries.
"Ransomware is an issue that knows no borders, it crosses borders, you have attackers in a set of countries using infrastructure in another set of countries targeting victims, hospitals, schools and companies and governments around the world," said White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberge, in a press conference.
The pledge comes as the cost of ransomware attacks continues to rise. According to a recent report by security firm Sophos, the average price tag of a ransomware event (which includes recovery costs) has risen to $1.85 million, making it a lucrative business for cyber criminals.
To strengthen cooperation towards the pledge, countries will share a list of known malicious or nefarious blockchain wallet addresses, which will be facilitated through the U.S. Department of Treasury. Addressees will be identified through the use of two information-sharing platforms from Lithuania and Israel. It will then analyze and surveille the addressees using artificial intelligence for any activity. The member countries will further discuss how to take actions against those connected to the addresses as the summit continues this week.
"As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow," said Nueberge.
The U.S. is taking the lead in this initiative, as 46 percent of worldwide attacks.
According to reporting by Reuters, the meeting, which features countries across the European Union and North America, concluded with the majority of countries promising to take the pledge to halt payment to hackers. The White House has confirmed that handful of the 48 countries in attendance have yet to agree to the pledge, but they expect all members to agree in time.