A joint statement says the "uneven global implementation" of rules relating to virtual assets is exacerbating the problem.
Ransomware is “an escalating global security threat with serious economic and security consequences” — and the inconsistent enforcement of cryptocurrency regulations is helping hackers cash in, a joint statement from countries around the world has warned.
Dozens of countries — including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, South Korea, South Africa, India and members of the European Union — met virtually to discuss the issue on Oct. 13 and 14. The statement, released by the White House, said:
“From malign operations against local health providers that endanger patient care, to those directed at businesses that limit their ability to provide fuel, groceries, or other goods to the public, ransomware poses a significant risk to critical infrastructure, essential services, public safety, consumer protection and privacy, and economic prosperity.”
The statement also said that a country’s ability to “effectively prevent, detect, mitigate and respond to threats from ransomware” depends on cooperation from global partners.
Inevitably, much of the focus centered on virtual assets, which were identified as “the primary instrument criminals use for ransomware payments and subsequent money laundering” — and the statement said that the “uneven global implementation” of standards released by the Financial Action Task Force hasn’t helped matters.
A Growing Problem
Data from Chainalysis shows that North America has been extorted for more money by ransomware attackers than any other region — and generally, it’s cybercriminals based in Russia who are causing most of the disruption.
Tellingly, Russia was not among the countries that was invited to this virtual conference, amid concerns that the Kremlin isn’t aggressive enough in tackling this criminal activity.
Speaking to the CoinMarketRecap podcast in July, Sophos security researcher Chester Wisniewski revealed that computer viruses actually check the computer for the keyboard’s language settings — and won’t infect the machine if it’s Cyrillic or Russian. This is probably to ensure that hackers don’t upset local law enforcement. He quipped:
“I guess as a defense, you could just set the language to Russian on all your computers. It would be rather inconvenient if you don't speak Russian, but it does mean you won't probably have a ransomware incident anytime soon.”