EU, US launch initiative against ransomware

The United States and European governments will coordinate in fighting against ransomware attacks, which have surged in number in recent years, the U.S.’s top security official said Tuesday.

“We have now a new ransomware working group to address the scourge of ransomware that has hurt the U.S. so much, and so many other countries. We understand that the vulnerabilities of one, that we all share those vulnerabilities,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said after meeting with European ministers for justice and home affairs in Lisbon.

“This is something we share, that increase of ransomware attacks during the pandemic, and that is an area where for sure we can do more together,” said Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner.

Cybercriminals shut down the largest gasoline pipeline system in the U.S, run by a company called Colonial, and the U.S. operations of meat processing company JBS in May. In Ireland, a ransomware attack crippled the country’s health care system the same month.

Security experts have pointed to cybercriminal groups based in Russia for the attacks.

A joint EU-U.S. statement said the EU and U.S. would work together “through law enforcement action, raising public awareness on how to protect networks as well as the risk of paying the criminals responsible, and to encourage those states that turn a blind eye to this crime to arrest and extradite or effectively prosecute criminals on their territory.”

Mayorkas said the EU and U.S. want to fight the attacks “through the sharing of information, … through the exchange of best practices and working together.”

This article is part of POLITICO Pro’s premium coverage of Cybersecurity and Data Protection. From the emerging threats of a volatile digital world to the legislation being shaped to protect business and citizens, across sectors. For a complimentary trial email [email protected] and mention Cyber.

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