In brief

  • G7 leaders have committed to fighting ransomware attacks.
  • Major hacks from Russia-based gangs have disrupted US supply chains in recent weeks.
  • Ransomware is typically facilitated by cryptocurrency.

G7 leaders are formalizing their commitment to the fight against ransomware—a type of malicious software capable of freezing a network until a ransom is paid. 

Recent high-profile attacks against Colonial Pipeline and the meat supply company JBS have crippled major infrastructure across the U.S., disrupting supply chains and driving up the price of gas and meat. Both companies were forced to pay ransoms in Bitcoin.

A press release from the White House characterizes the uptick in “cyber intrusions” via ransomware as an “escalating shared threat” to G7 nations.

“Transnational criminal enterprises leverage infrastructure, virtual currency, and money laundering networks, and target victims all over the globe, often operating from geographic locations that offer a permissive environment for carrying out such malicious cyber activities,” reads the document. 

It’s most likely a reference to Russia, where many ransomware gangs (including DarkSide and REvil, the groups behind the Colonial and JBS attacks) are suspected to be based.

President Biden, facing pressure from lawmakers, is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week; Putin has so far denied that Russia bears any responsibility for the ransomware attacks.

Chainalysis, a blockchain data and analytics company, estimates the amount of crypto heisted in ransomware attacks grew 311% last year. In the first four and a half months of this year, ransomware was responsible for at least $81 million in stolen funds worldwide. 

That’s the company’s conservative estimate—Chainalysis says it expects the number to rise as new crimes are discovered retroactively.