White House Announces Ransomware Combat Plan Following Attack on JBS

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In Brief
  • A serious ransomware attack on JBS meat suppliers has halted work for thousands of employees,

  • Attack prompts further analysis of criminal use of digital assets.

  • White House likely to crackdown on crypto as part of cybersecurity plan.

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Aboard Air Force One, the President’s Deputy Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, briefed the press gaggle on a serious ongoing ransomware attack.

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Major ransomware attack

Brazilian meat supplier, JBS, was the victim of a ransomware attack that’s been affecting their systems for the past two days. Across its North American and Australian businesses, work has ground to a halt for thousands of employees.

Due to the attack, 7,000 workers in Australian slaughterhouses and at least 3,000 workers across the U.S. and Canada have had working shifts canceled.

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Addressing the press gaggle aboard the flight to Tulsa, Ok Jean-Pierre said the White House was,

“Engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.”

Jean-Pierre added that the FBI was investigating the attack and President Biden was keen to combat future attacks of this nature.

Combat plan

Jean-Pierre stressed that it was the administration’s priority to stop attacks like this in the future. President Biden has launched a rapid strategic review to address the threat, which will have four lines of effort:

  1. Distribution of ransomware infrastructure and actors working closely with the private sector.
  2. Building an international coalition to hold countries who harbor ransom actors accountable.
  3. Expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transactions.
  4. Reviewing U.S. ransomware policies.

These efforts build on President Biden’s executive order, which outlines five high-priority cybersecurity initiatives that to reduce the risk of cyberattacks including ransomware.

Significance for cryptocurrency

It has been mooted by some in the crypto space that President Biden’s tenure in the White House could have adverse effects on the industry. Until now there hadn’t been many major moves from the White House against crypto. And, while a regulatory framework is being discussed, nothing concrete has been released.

However, this latest development appears to mirror the current regulatory outlook in the U.S. on cryptocurrencies. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been engaged in several high profiles cases against Kraken and Ripple, while the U.S. treasury has plans to raise $700 billion through crypto tax compliance measures.

Disclaimer

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Adam is working in London while studying for a self-paced MicroMasters in Data, Economics and Public Development online with MITx. Before this he studied at Trinity College Dublin where he first became interested in cryptocurrency and blockchain. First writing for a university publication on cryptocurrency in 2015, Adam has been writing about and following the crypto economy ever since.

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