Representatives from the European Union (EU) and 31 other countries met during a virtual summit this week to coordinate a global response to ransomware, per the Wall Street Journal.
“We are dedicated to enhancing our efforts to disrupt the ransomware business model and associated money-laundering activities,” the representatives reportedly said in a collective statement yesterday.
The representatives also said that internationally coordinated scrutiny of cryptocurrencies would be integral to facing the ransomware threat head-on. Ransomware groups, they said, can easily transfer any stolen funds to jurisdictions that aren’t up to scratch on tracking illicit transactions.
“We also recognize the challenges some jurisdictions face in developing frameworks and investigative capabilities to address the constantly evolving and highly distributed business operations involving virtual assets,” the representatives added.
Ransomware activities—and their associated ties to cryptocurrencies—have become a major focus for the Biden administration’s national security agenda.
National security, ransomware, and crypto
In the United States, President Biden has made ransomware a priority for the administration’s approach to national security.
Earlier this summer—amid ransomware attacks against Colonial Pipeline and meat processing firm JBS—the U.S. Department of Justice said it would elevate ransomware to a similar priority level as terrorism.
The Biden administration also spent the summer setting up a bespoke ransomware task force, aimed at combating cyberattacks and tracing cryptocurrency ransoms.
Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser said during an accompanying briefing that the administration is working on ways to quell the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for illegal activities.
In August, the Biden administration also dusted off the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program—an initiative from 1984 that has paid over $150 million to over 100 informants that helped prevent acts of terrorism.
The State Department is even incorporating cryptocurrency payments—to the tune of $10 million—to dark web informants that can identify any person who is participating “in malicious cyber activities against U.S. critical infrastructure.”
To top this all off, there are also rumors the Biden administration is eyeing an executive order to crack down on the crypto industry.
Yet, ransomware remains a global problem, as U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during this week’s virtual summit.
“No one country, no one group can solve this problem,” Sullivan said.