Ransomware evolved from a menial cybercrime issue to a crisis that threatens national security. Incidents such as the Colonial Pipeline attack show that this type of criminal activity can impact not just specific organizations that lack good security practices, but every citizen. It has the potential to disrupt life and prevent people from accessing basic services, including healthcare.
The White House is exploring ways to keep the phenomenon in check. Since ransoms are typically paid in cryptocurrency, one idea is to track these transactions better. This is a difficult task because many Bitcoin exchanges are based overseas and they only have to comply with loose regulations.
The US hopes for international cooperation to make cryptocurrency transactions more transparent and dismantle criminal gangs. Ransomware has been on the agenda of the G7 Summit in the UK, where political leaders called on all states to “urgently identify and disrupt ransomware criminal networks operating from within their borders.” Also, during a subsequent meeting in Geneva, US President Joe Biden handed Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors that should be “off-limits to attack.”
Security researchers welcome these actions saying they might slow the growth of ransomware to a certain degree. They say, however, that organizations should continue to upgrade their security against the ransomware threat.