Biden Administration Takes New Steps To Combat Ransomware Attacks

The U.S. Treasury Department today announced a series of steps aimed at combating the growing number of ransomware attacks. The attacks have created crisis situations for companies and organizations across the country, including Colonial Pipeline, a JBS meat processing plant, and this past weekend a major agricultural cooperative.

The Treasury’s actions today include:

  • Attempting to disrupt criminal networks and virtual currency exchanges responsible for laundering ransoms.
  • Encouraging improved cyber security across the private sector.
  • Increasing incident and ransomware payment reporting to U.S. government agencies, including both Treasury and law enforcement. 

The federal agency said the actions, “advance the United States government’s broader counter-ransomware strategy, which emphasizes the need for a collaborative approach to counter ransomware attacks, including partnership between the public and private sector and close relationships with international partners.”

Ransomware Attacks On The Rise

According to the Treasury Department, ransomware attacks are increasing in scale, sophistication, and frequency, victimizing governments, individuals, and private companies around the world. In 2020, ransomware payments exceeded $400 million, more than four times their level in 2019. 

Sending Signals

Tom Robinson is the chief scientist and co-founder of crypto asset risk management firm Elliptic. He said, “Rogue cryptocurrency exchanges have long been key enablers for ransomware gangs. This action by the U.S. government sends a clear signal that it will not tolerate this activity, wherever it is based.

“The impact on the sanctioned exchange will be severe. The Office of Foreign Asset Control has effectively cut it off from access to the U.S. dollar. Banks everywhere will be on alert.”

Bryson Bort, CEO of information security company Scythe,…