Representatives from 30 countries and the European Union met for two days last week during a White House-convened summit, developing an international coalition committed to fighting the universal problem of ransomware. Though the specifics are still being ironed out, big-picture goals for this initiative include improvement of law enforcement collaboration, reducing the illegal circulation of cryptocurrency, and developing a more diplomatic conversation around these urgent issues. Ransomware cost our world $20 billion this year alone – and the number keeps rising, with the average ransom demand in 2021 reaching over $220,000 (43% higher than the average ransom demanded in 2020) with the U.S. reporting over $400 million being paid in ransom demands globally this year to-date.
Participating countries include the United States, Ukraine, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, South Korea, India, Brazil, Nigeria, and the United Arab Emirates. It should come as no surprise that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea were among the countries not invited to participate in the global virtual summit last week, as they are among countries found to be harboring cybercriminals. However, it also makes sense that these countries eventually need to be brought into the conversation for there to be a significant impact to reduce ransomware attacks.
Call me an optimist but, hopefully, this initiative causes a ripple effect that encourages similar global alliances around other important issues facing this world. I am eager to learn more about the plan and strategy once they have been developed and see the change that something like this could bring. Beyond the potential reduction in delays and restrictions caused by sanctions and other red tape, so many global leaders together on one accord committing to the development and execution of a plan of this magnitude is historic in itself. With the U.S. facing a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals –and as current professionals are leaving their jobs due to burnout and skills gaps among other frustrations – it is encouraging to see the U.S. and other world powers work together to address this escalating and shared threat.
by LaShaune R. Littlejohn of Phoenix Star Creative LLC