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November 1, 2022

US hosts summit to boost international cooperation on ransomware

Delegates from around the world will gather in the US capital today to discuss a joined-up approach to cybercrime.

By Claudia Glover

A two-day summit looking at how to handle the threat of ransomware begins today in Washington. The United States is hosting the event, the second of its type, in a bid to build international co-operation in the fight against cybercriminals.

Ransomware summit in Washington
The White House has called an international summit to discuss ransomware. (Photo by Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock)

The White House has convened the summit as public and private sector organisations around the world continue to suffer the consequences of cyberattacks. The meeting comes weeks after the second-largest school district in the US, Los Angeles Unified School District, was hit by a ransomware attack last month, with criminals leaking stolen data online.

Who is attending the US ransomware summit?

Delegates from 37 countries and 13 global companies will discuss ransomware and other cybercrime issues, such as the illicit use of cryptocurrencies. Seven countries have been added to the list this year, as well as the private companies to diversify the conversation. Microsoft, Mandiant, Siemens and India’s Tata are among the private companies expected at the summit.

The agenda includes discussion around how to “institute a set of cyber norms that are recognised across the globe to counter criminal ransomware threats and hold malicious actors accountable,” a US official explained to Reuters.

A key topic for debate will be how to “disrupt [ransomware] attacks, counter the illicit movement of cryptocurrencies and build resilience against such attacks,” the official added. A joint statement from participants is likely to be issued at the culmination of the summit, setting out the next steps.

Russia will be discussed

The statement is expected to include a pledge to redouble efforts to bring pressure on countries that continue to harbour cybercriminals without implementing penalties for illicit cyber activity, such as Russia. However, overall the summit will be focussing less on Russia specifically and more on “how we as a set of nations make it harder, costlier and riskier for ransomware actors to operate,” the US official told Reuters. 

Russian-backed hackers have been carrying out attacks throughout the war in Ukraine, focusing on countries opposed to Russia’s military action. As a result, Russia, Belarus and other countries believed to be uncooperative in the global fight against cybercrime will not be attending the meeting.

Participants hope to strengthen international cooperation and build on the progress made at the initial summit last year. Speaking at that event, Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, said: “No country, no one group, can solve this problem. We’ve recognised the urgency of the ransomware threat, the need to protect our citizens and businesses from it, and the criticality of international cooperation to counter it.”

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Sullivan will be joined by FBI director Chris Wray, deputy treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo, and deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman in addressing the meeting. President Biden is not expected to attend.

Read more: US government cybersecurity is poor and difficult to fix

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