37 governments pledge not to harbor criminals using ransomware and to pool their investigative tools

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Photo: Alex Wong/Newsmakers

A group of more than three dozen governments have pledged not to harbor ransomware criminals within their borders and set up a new Threat Sharing Task Force following a summit of two days at the White House this week.

The big picture: The two-day summit marked the second annual meeting – and first in-person event – of the Counter Ransomware Initiative, which aims to set standards among the 37 attendees on how to fight and defend against ransomware.

  • Participating governments were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, European Commission, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa , Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States
  • A group of 13 companies also attended the summit for the first time, including CrowdStrike, Microsoft and others.

Driving the news: Participants released a series of planned actions on Tuesday, outlining how governments hope to work together to combat the global threat of ransomware.

  • Among actions, governments plan to work on developing a framework to help prevent and respond to ransomware; actively share and publish reports detailing threat information and trends in the ransomware ecosystem; and undertake semi-annual ransomware drills to help prepare for future attacks.
  • The initiative also plans to create an international voluntary ransomware task force, led by the Australian government, which will encourage threat intelligence sharing and better coordinate international actions to track the financial activities of ransomware criminals.
  • Participating governments also pledged to “work together to increase the political costs of countries that host and license ransomware actors.”

Threat level: The number of businesses facing ransomware attacks continues to rise.

  • A recent report by SpyCloud found that ransomware affected 90% of IT professionals in large enterprises in the past year, up from 72.5% the year before.

The plot: Ransomware is a problem without borders, so governments banding together to share investigative resources and establishing domestic and foreign policies targeting cybercriminals is the best solution they have to mitigate the threat.

Yes, but: The impact of the initiative’s actions is limited, for now, given that ransomware criminals mainly hide in non-participating countries, such as Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.

  • Many governments in these countries are also known to have activated or worked with ransomware gangs.

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