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US urges Russia to do more to crack down on ransomware groups as White House expects meetings with allies

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The U.S. government “has shared information with Russia about ransomware criminal activity being carried out from its territory,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under the ground rules the White House imposed on the summons.

“We have seen some steps from the Russian government and we are looking to see further action,” said the official, who declined to say what those steps and actions were.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan kicked off the virtual meeting by telling delegates, “We can not do this alone.” Sullivan called for more cooperation regarding ransomware to “look for criminals and the states that hold them accountable.”

“International criminals are most often the perpetrators of ransomware crimes, and they often use global infrastructure and money laundering networks in many countries, multiple jurisdictions to carry out their attacks,” Sullivan said.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden in June called Russian President Vladimir Putin to crack down on Russian-speaking hackers after a series of ransomware attacks cost US companies millions of dollars. Such an incident forced the Colonial Pipeline, which provides about 45% of the fuel for the East Coast, to close operations for days in May.
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Disruptions have placed cyber security, and ransomware in particular, high on the list of national security priorities for the White House.

Senior government officials from the U.S. and 30 allied countries are meeting almost Wednesday and Thursday to establish closer co-operation in the fight against ransomware, which has knocked off-line computers at health care centers in many countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are among the countries represented at the meetings, according to the White House. Discussions have focused on efforts to track down and dismantle ransomware groups and address the role of cryptocurrency in financing ransomware attacks, among other issues.

Russia is clearly absent from meetings as the White House tries to make progress in bilateral talks with Moscow.

Since the Biden-Putin meeting, US officials have seen closely the changes in the Russian government’s behavior and any changes in the pace of cybercrime operations emanating from Russia.

Mandiant, a US cybersecurity firm that responds to ransomware incidents, has reported a dormancy in activity by some ransomware groups. But whether there is any reduction in ransomware attacks remains to be seen.
Biden administration steps up efforts to secure US infrastructure from Russian, Chinese cyberattacks

A spokesman for Registered Future, another cybersecurity firm, told CNN that the firm had found a “Russia-based ransomware group that currently has over 100 members” and “is actively recruiting new cybercriminals.”

Jen Easterly, director of the US Cyber ​​Security and Infrastructure Agency, said last week that she had not seen “significant, material changes” in Russian behavior since the start of the Biden-Putin meeting.

Cyber ​​security analysts say one of the most effective ways to combat ransomware is to arrest people who develop and use computer hacking software. While Russian cooperation has been elusive, the US has relied heavily on allies in Europe in attacks against several criminal groups.

FBI and European enforcement agencies last month arrested two people in Ukraine who allegedly made demands for millions of dollars in ransom following attacks by European and American organizations.

Timo Koster, a former Dutch diplomat focused on cyber security, said he expects countries like the US and the Netherlands to encourage other governments to take safer action against cybercriminals.

“More international co-operation is needed” in coordinating how countries attribute cyber attacks to specific actors and responses from law enforcement and security agencies, Koster told CNN.

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