US Leads 40-Country Alliance to Cut Off Ransomware Payments

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The US, alongside 40 other countries, plans to sign a pledge to an alliance stating that it will never pay a ransom to cybercriminals in the future. The move is in an effort to cut off the funding mechanism for threat actors.

In what is known as the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, the US leads the plans to target the operators of ransomware attacks via their purse strings, possibly due to the fact that the US is hit the hardest by these kinds of threats (46% of victims are in the US, according to the Biden administration’s announcement of the alliance). 

These new steps in the initiative come after recent high-profile US attacks and big names such as MGM Resorts International and Clorox, the former of which notably did not pay the ransom that was demanded of it.

Countries in the alliance intend to create a better knowledge base regarding ransom payment accounts, through two information-sharing platforms: the first by Lithuania and the second in a joint effort by Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The alliance will also use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze blockchains and identify illicit funds, as well as share a blacklist of digital wallets used for ransom payments through the US Department of Treasury.

“As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this is a problem that will continue to grow,” Anne Neuberger, US deputy national security adviser in the Biden administration for cyber and emerging technologies, said in a virtual briefing.

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