40 Countries Vow to Not Pay Ransom: Is This the End of Ransomware?

40 Countries Vow to Not Pay Ransom: Is This the End of Ransomware?

A senior White House official revealed that a U.S.-led coalition consisting of 40 countries plans to commit to a pledge to never pay ransom to cybercriminals. This alliance, known as the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, aims to eliminate the primary funding sources for hackers. Anne Neuberger, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for cyber and emerging technologies in the Biden administration, emphasized that ransomware attacks have been on the rise globally, with the United States experiencing a staggering 46% of these assaults.

Neuberger stressed that the continuous flow of money to ransomware criminals perpetuates the issue, leading to its sustained growth. Ransomware attacks typically involve hackers encrypting an organization’s systems and demanding ransom payments in exchange for restoring access. Often, these cybercriminals resort to stealing sensitive data, using it to coerce victims, and threatening to leak the information online if payments are withheld.

Recent high-profile U.S. incidents involving casino operator MGM Resorts International (MGM.N) and cleaning products manufacturer Clorox (CLX.N) highlight the severity of these attacks, as both companies continue to grapple with the aftermath and disruptions caused.

To combat these challenges, the alliance is focusing on eradicating the financial lifelines of these criminals through enhanced information sharing regarding ransom payment accounts. Neuberger mentioned the establishment of two information-sharing platforms, one spearheaded by Lithuania and the other jointly by Israel and the UAE. These initiatives were detailed in a Reuters report from Monday.

Under this initiative, partner countries will participate in sharing a “black list” through the U.S. Department of Treasury, containing details about digital wallets involved in processing ransomware payments. Additionally, artificial intelligence will be leveraged to scrutinize blockchain networks to detect and track illicit funds.

According to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, crypto payments to ransomware attackers are on track to reach one of the highest annual totals on record.

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