Why it matters: The US government is once again meeting with global partners to try and develop an effective strategy to fight (and win) the war against ransomware. Tech companies like Microsoft are joining as well, bringing their valuable, first-hand expertise to the table.
For the second time in two years, the White House is hosting an international gathering about the ever-growing ransomware issue. The Second International Counter Ransomware Initiative Summit is bringing 36 nations together from around the world, reflecting the borderless nature of the threat posed by cyber-criminals and their nefarious encryption-based cyber-attacks.
The nations invited by the Biden Administration include many members of the European Union (Austria, France, Germany, Italy and more), Australia, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. A total of13 technology companies are present as well, with well-known names like Microsoft, SAP and Siemens adding their technical expertise to a high-level political meeting.
Members of the US government are joining the discussion together with FBI Director Christopher Wray; President Joe Biden is not expected to attend. In a brief introduction released on Sunday, an unnamed senior administration official explained that while the US is facilitating the meeting, they don't see it solely as a US initiative.
The aforementioned senior official explained, "ransomware is an issue that knows no borders" as it affects each nation taking part in the meeting and then some. File-encrypting malware affects businesses, critical infrastructure and citizens everywhere, and it's only getting more challenging as technology evolves.
Just this summer, the official said, the largest unified school district in the US was compromised by a ransomware attack the day before school began. Hospitals and networks of hospitals have been attacked in France and in the UK, government networks and banks have been compromised. Ransomware really is a global problem, with the pace and the sophistication of attacks "increasing faster than our resilience and disruption efforts."
The reasons for hosting the meeting are clear enough, but what about its practical outcome? The virtually-held 2021 summit brought an agreement to develop a framework for ransomware information sharing, improve anti-money laundering models, and increase international diplomatic efforts against "ransomware-friendly" countries. This second meeting is expected to benefit from tech companies' insights about the problem, developing a set of "cyber-norms and rules of the road recognized across the globe to counter criminal ransomware threats and hold malicious actors accountable."