Finally, the U.S. government is starting to get serious about combatting ransomware as the Biden administration is considering a range of options to stop the growing threat.
According to Politico, these options include launching offensive cyberattacks on hacking gangs and developing partnerships with the private sector aimed at sharing information about cyber threats.
The publication reported Thursday that the White House has formed a “previously unannounced gross-government task force” that is coordinating offensive and defensive countermeasures. This is much welcomed news after the months-long barrage of ransomware campaigns and other high-profile cyberattacks.
Other actions being taken include promoting digital resilience among critical infrastructure organizations, halting ransom payments made via cryptocurrency platforms and coordinating with U.S. allies, Politico reported, citing an anonymous Senate aide.
The interagency group is giving the White House frequent updates on agencies’ efforts, the senior administration official said, adding that the body is “tracking, on a weekly basis,” efforts to “implement the national counter-ransomware campaign.” The official, who briefed reporters late Wednesday, spoke anonymously per White House policy.
Among other steps, the State Department will offer rewards — totaling up to $10 million — for information leading to the identification of alleged cyber criminals, especially the hackers behind state-sanctioned breaches of critical infrastructure, the administration official said.
In a move that the cybersecurity community will like, the administration is also looking at new partnerships with cybersecurity insurance providers and critical infrastructure companies to foster a better public-private partnership and more easily share information about cyberattacks.
Disclosing that an organization has been a victim of a cyberattack is unfortunately a business decision that could result in a loss of business and a degraded reputation, but cybersecurity experts say avoiding “cyber shaming” will help experts better share information and get out in front of these attacks.
Politico noted other steps the administration has taken, including hiring more cybersecurity experts for key positions, launching interagency website stopransomware.gov and offering other rewards for information.
Given that REvil – which has reportedly vanished from the internet – and other similar ransomware gangs originate from overseas, cyberattacks against private companies is a national security issue. These steps are an encouraging sign that the U.S. is taking this seriously.