US leads 40 country coalition that pledges to never pay ransomware

The US is spearheading an alliance of 40 countries that have signed a pledge to never pay out on ransomware demands.

Anne Neuberger, US deputy national security adviser in the Biden administration for cyber and emerging technologies, revealed the pledge made by International Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI) members on Tuesday at the White House’s third annual anti-ransomware summit.

Neuberger highlighted that the US is the worst hit country in the world by ransomware attacks, suffering 46 per cent of all reported cases. She said that the problem will continue to grow “as long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals.”

She also pointed to two high profile recent cases – the attacks on MGM Resorts international and Clorox – with both companies yet to fully recover from the major ransomware breaches.

She said: “Ransomware is an issue that knows no borders, it crosses borders, you have attackers in a set of countries using infrastructure in another set of countries targeting victims, hospitals, schools and companies and governments around the world.”

The initiative will focus on better information sharing about ransomware payment accounts with two information-sharing platforms to be created. The first will be created by Lituania while the second will be jointly developed by Israel and the UAE.

Along with the pledge not to pay ransoms, member governments will agree to help any member country hit by a ransomware attack with incident response.

There will also be the creation of a "blacklist of wallets' through the US Treasury, which will allow officials to alert service providers to block or freeze transactions

The Record reports that there are still holdouts among the CRI’s 48 member states, with a senior administration official telling the outlet that the CRI is in "the final throes of getting every last member to sign up."

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