In a significant move against cybercrime, an alliance of forty countries, led by the United States, has committed to a pledge to never pay ransoms to cybercriminals. This initiative, known as the International Counter Ransomware Initiative, aims to eliminate the funding mechanism for hackers.
Ransomware: A Growing Threat
Ransomware attacks have been growing worldwide, with the United States being the worst hit, accounting for 46% of such attacks. In these attacks, hackers encrypt an organization’s systems and demand ransom payments in exchange for unlocking them. High-profile U.S. attacks have occurred recently at MGM Resorts International and Clorox.
The Pledge: A Step Towards Elimination
The pledge is a step towards eliminating the criminals’ funding. As long as there is money flowing to ransomware criminals, this problem will continue to grow. By refusing to pay ransoms, the alliance aims to disrupt this flow of funds.
AI and Blockchain: Tools for Detection
The initiative will use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze blockchain transactions with a view to identifying illicit funds. Blockchain transactions are often used by cybercriminals for money laundering and other illicit activities. AI can help detect suspicious transactions and assign risk scores based on factors such as transaction patterns, counterparty risk, and exposure to illicit funds.
Information Sharing: A Collaborative Approach
The alliance will facilitate better information sharing about ransom payment accounts. Partner countries will share a “blacklist” through the U.S. Department of Treasury that will include information on digital wallets being used to move ransomware payments. Two information-sharing platforms will be created, one by Lithuania and another jointly by Israel and the UAE.
This initiative represents a significant international partnership against cybercrime. By refusing to pay ransoms and using advanced technologies like AI for detection, the alliance aims to disrupt the funding mechanisms of cybercriminals and curb the growing threat of ransomware.