Nations get tough on cryptocurrency to tackle ransomware attacks

36 nations led by the US have agreed to improve ransomware prevention measures, specifically concerning the use of cryptocurrencies to fund such activities.

Held at the White House, the International Counter Ransomware Initiative summit was far more explicit on cryptocurrency than it was during its inaugural outing in 2021, as concerns continue to mount over the ease of which cybercriminals are able to obtain the digital tokens.

One of the main areas of concern identified by the Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI) was the laundering of cryptocurrency. The summit outlined plans to prevent this, including the sharing of information about nefarious crypto wallets across agencies worldwide, running workshops on how to enhance blockchain tracing, and enforcing identity authentication for crypto transactions. 

Solid steps

As a result of the summit, a number of nations will be setting up new initiatives in cooperation with one another to tackle the global problem of ransomware. 

The International Counter Ransomware Task Force (ICRTF) will be established at the center of proceedings. Australia will be taking the lead at first, with the Regional Cyber Defense Center (RCDC) of Lithuania trialing a national wing, reporting on the ransomware intelligence it gathers and sharing with other nations. 

Meanwhile, over the next year the CRI will be busy developing a framework for identifying priority targets and alerting various law enforcement agencies, putting together a toolkit for other organizations to use when investigating ransomware attacks and creating channels between private and public bodies to share ransomware information.

Ransomware is becoming an increasingly popular tactic used by criminals to extort unwitting victims, with the frequency of attacks growing at an alarming rate over the past several years. Last year in particular saw a huge surge, with over 600 million attacks worldwide in 2021, more than twice the number of the preceding year. 

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