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Biden Administration Highlights Counter-Ransomware Efforts

The Biden Administration outlined its ongoing efforts to counter ransomware extortion attacks.

In a fact sheet, the Administration said that $400 million in payments were made globally last year, and that $81 million was paid in the first quarter of 2021. The Administration said that it was pursuing the following four strategies for countering ransomware:

  • Disrupt Ransomware Infrastructure and Actors. The Administration highlighted its efforts to mobilize U.S. government capabilities, including the DOJ's establishment of a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team and Treasury's update to its advisory on sanctions risks arising from ransomware payments.

  • Bolster Resilience against Ransomware. The Administration (i) called for increased cyber defense investment from the private sector, (ii) highlighted collaboration between Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency to engage the cyber insurance sector to consider incentives to enhance cyber hygiene; and (iii) initiated an awareness effort including a joint DOJ and DHS launch of the website;

  • Combat Virtual Currency Misuse. The Administration said it was leveraging and acquiring innovative tools and approaches in its anti-money laundering / countering the financing of terrorism (or "AML/CFT") enforcement efforts. The Administration also noted Treasury's work to drive standards on financial transparency related to virtual assets at the Financial Action Task Force.

  • Bolster International Cooperation. The Administration said it was working with international partners to disrupt ransomware networks, including the establishment of a White House / Kremlin Experts Group to act against criminal ransomware activities emanating from Russia. The Administration also emphasized the United States' commitment to eliminating related safe harbors.

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