Mon | May 3, 2021 | 3:00 PM PDT

Everyone is aware how big of an issue ransomware has become in the last year. With a majority of the workforce being at home, the opportunities for threat actors have increased drastically.

To combat this ransomware crisis, the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) has partnered with experts around the globe in creating the Ransomware Task Force (RTF).

Members of the RTF come from incredibly important organizations like Amazon, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, CrowdStrike, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), to name just a few.

Here is a note from the co-chairs on why this task force will be crucial to fighting back against ransomware attacks:

"Countless people around the world are already working tirelessly to blunt the onslaught of ransomware attacks. But no single entity alone has the requisite resources, skills, capabilities, or authorities to significantly constrain this global criminal enterprise.

For this reason, we convened the Ransomware Task Force—a team of more than 60 experts from software companies, cybersecurity vendors, government agencies, non-profits, and academic
institutions—to develop a comprehensive framework for tackling the ransomware threat.

Our goal is not only to help the world better understand ransomware, but to proactively and relentlessly disrupt the ransomware business model through a series of coordinated actions, many of which can be immediately implemented by industry, government, and civil society. Acting upon a few of these recommendations will not likely shift the trajectory, but the Task Force is confident that implementing all of them in coordination, with speed and conviction, will make a
significant difference."

Ransomware Task Force report: combatting ransomware

The task force has published a report detailing a comprehensive strategic framework to fight ransomware.

How big of an impact has ransomware had in the last year?

Look at the chart below for some of the chilling statistics related to this type of cybercrime.

The report also provides an entire set of recommendations for dealing with ransomware.

Top 5 steps to combat ransomware

There is a lot of information in the 81-page report, however, the task force also highlights five priority recommendations that are "the most foundational and urgent." Here they are:

  1. "Coordinated, international diplomatic and law enforcement efforts must proactively prioritize ransomware through a comprehensive, resourced strategy, including using a carrot-and-stick approach to direct nation-states away from providing safe havens to ransomware criminals."
  2. "The United States should lead by example and execute a sustained, aggressive, whole of government, intelligence-driven anti ransomware campaign, coordinated by the White House. In the U.S., this must include the establishment of 1) an Interagency Working Group led by the National Security Council in coordination with the nascent National Cyber Director; 2) an internal U.S. Government Joint Ransomware Task Force; and 3) a collaborative, private industry-led
    informal Ransomware Threat Focus Hub."
  3. "Governments should establish Cyber Response and Recovery Funds to support ransomware response and other cybersecurity activities; mandate that organizations report ransom payments; and require organizations to consider alternatives before making payments."
  4. "An internationally coordinated effort should develop a clear, accessible, and broadly adopted framework to help organizations prepare for, and respond to, ransomware attacks. In some underresourced and more critical sectors, incentives (such as fine relief and funding) or regulation may be required to drive adoption."
  5. "The cryptocurrency sector that enables ransomware crime should be more closely regulated. Governments should require cryptocurrency exchanges, crypto kiosks, and over-the-counter (OTC) trading 'desks' to comply with existing laws, including Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Combatting Financing of Terrorism (CFT) laws."

For more information on the Ransomware Task Force, recommendations, and where the industry is headed, read the full report here.

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