In response to the persistent and global ransomware threat, including that from Nigeria, the White House is swiftly working to finalise a new policy, expected to be revealed as early as Tuesday, that will outline governmental responses to ransomware attacks. This policy will prioritise the sharing of critical information about attackers and the accounts used to receive ransom payments. A senior administration official, well-versed in the matter, underscored the urgency of addressing this growing concern.
Ransomware, a malicious form of cyberattack wherein hackers hijack an organization’s systems and demand a ransom for their release, continues to plague a wide range of industries, affecting schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure sectors, and government entities. Notably, these attackers have escalated their tactics by stealing sensitive data to exert additional pressure on their victims.
The White House has consistently advocated against paying ransoms and has been actively encouraging other nations to adopt a similar stance. During the upcoming third International Counter Ransomware Initiative, the administration is set to unveil substantial outcomes, including initiatives aimed at fostering international collaboration for sharing information about ransomware attackers.
“We’re committing to sharing bad wallets—wallets that are used to move illicit ransom fufunds—asell as a number of other related projects,” the official stated.
Determining the true extent of ransomware attacks is a challenge due to underreporting by many affected organisations. Statista, a data platform, reports that there were 493.33 million ransomware attack attempts detected globally last year.
These cybercriminals often exploit data stolen from victims in one country to launch attacks on organisations in other countries, highlighting the necessity of international cooperation in addressing the ransomware threat, the official emphasised.
A U.S.-led alliance focused on countering these threats currently comprises 50 countries, including Nigeria and Costa Rica, as well as Singapore and South Korea. Additionally, Interpol and the European Union are actively participating in this collaborative endeavour.
The broad geographic representation within this alliance aligns with the U.S. government’s belief that “we have to work to ensure that all the digital connectivity we rely on for our citizens is secure,” as emphasised by the official.