Amid an epidemic of ransomware attacks, the United States will speak to 30 countries this week about cybersecurity strategies, but with one key absence: Russia.
The country that knowingly or unknowingly hosts many of the crime syndicates responsible for ransomware attacks was not invited to the two-day summit to develop new strategies against that threat. The match starts on Wednesday.
In ransomware attacks, cybercriminals access protected networks and lock computers until they receive a ransom.
This week’s virtual conversations will focus in part on efforts to combat and hunt down cybercriminal networks like the one that attacked a major company that runs a gas pipeline in the United States in May, a government official said.
The attack on Colonial Pipeline, which caused gas shortages on the east coast of the United States, was attributed to a group based in Russia.
The exclusion of a country with so many ties to the extortion software phenomenon is a reflection of the bad relations between Moscow and Washington.
Despite this, the United States has used a “specific channel” to discuss cybersecurity with Russia, said the official, who informed the press on condition of anonymity to comment on this week’s meeting, which will be attended by some 30 countries and the European Union.
The Biden administration took office amid a massive cyber espionage campaign known as the SolarWinds attack, which US officials have linked to Russian intelligence agents.
Ransomware attacks, often the work of criminal gangs rather than state-sponsored groups, have caused tens of billions of dollars in losses to businesses and institutions and have become a major source of tension between Russia and the United States. .
Payments for these bailouts totaled more than $ 400 million worldwide in 2020 and exceeded $ 81 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to the US government.
The Biden government has taken steps such as sanctioning a Russia-based virtual currency brokerage that authorities say helped at least eight ransomware groups launder their profits and issue security directives that force pipeline companies to improve their cyber defenses. .