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White House Will Host Global Meeting to Tackle Menace of Ransomware

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • The White House is hosting officials from nearly 40 countries with the goal of creating a unified approach to tackling ransomware attacks.
  • The meeting serves as a formal follow-up to a similar meeting held online last year, as the number of ransomware attacks continue to rise.
  • Cryptocurrencies, the favored payment method of ransomware attackers, will also be highlighted during the meeting.
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The White House is hosting an international meeting in Washington this week to address the increasing amount of ransomware attacks globally.

In addition to ransomware attacks, the meeting will also tackle other cyber crimes, as well as cryptocurrencies that facilitate them. According to the White House, the goal of the meeting is to establish a global standard for addressing these concerns. 

Key points on the agenda include developing ways to defend against or disrupt these attacks, and “hold malicious actors accountable”. This last point is of key concern, as ransomware perpetrators are often harbored by states uncooperative with the global order. 

Meeting Participants From Across the Globe

This meeting will serve as a formal follow-up to the Counter-Ransomware Initiative, which was held online last year. In addition to the 30 countries who participated in last year’s inaugural meeting, another seven have joined the ranks.

Notable exceptions include North Korea, Russia, Belarus, who are believed to facilitate and harbor ransomware attackers. This meeting will also feature representatives from leading tech firms, like Microsoft, SAP and Siemens, for the first time.

According to the White House, several top officials in the administration will participate in the meeting. These will include deputy cabinet members, such as Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

Key security officials will also take part, such as FBI Director Chris Wray and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Ransomware Attackers Typically Demand Payment in Crypto

The growing number of ransomware attacks around the world has highlighted the need for concerted effort to combat them. According to the White House, 4,000 attacks were reported outside the United States over the past year and half. In 2021, ransom payments in cryptocurrency doubled from the year prior to over $600 million, according to Chainalysis data.

Ransomware attackers use specially developed software to encrypt the data of businesses or individuals. In order to release the data, victims must pay a ransom to the attackers, who generally favor payments in cryptocurrency. The practice has become so lucrative that the most successful ransomware software developers even offer their products with customer service.

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Nicholas Pongratz
Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.
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