A senior administration official said Russia was not invited to participate in a 30-nation virtual meeting led by the United States aimed at combating the growing threat of ransomware and other cybercrime. Cyber security experts in the private sector say that many ransomware gangs operate from Ukraine and Russia. Some US officials and analysts have said that Russian ransomware gangs operate with the tacit approval of the Kremlin, but are not directly controlled by the government.
The meeting, which will be held over two days, will consist of six sessions and will include addressing the misuse of virtual currency for ransom payments, prosecuting ransomware criminals, using diplomacy to combat ransomware, and urging nations to do so. Including helping to become more resilient to attacks. the officer said.
Along with the United States, four countries including India, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom will lead discussions on topics such as disruption, virtual currency and diplomacy. Others who attended the meeting include Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Ukraine, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, the European Union.
“We are in active discussions with the Russians, but they were not invited to participate in this special forum,” the senior administration official said.
The official said the US engages directly with Russia on the ransomware issue under the US-Kremlin expert group, led by the White House and set up by President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The official said discussions with Russia are ongoing, the US has shared information about specific criminal actors within Russia and the country has taken preliminary steps to address the issues being raised.
President Joe Biden has ramped up the cybersecurity response to the administration’s senior-most levels after a set of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize US energy and food supplies.
Hackers caused fuel disruptions in the eastern United States in May when they targeted a pipeline operated by Colonial Pipeline.
The Biden administration hopes that their new informal grouping, which they are calling the Counter-Ransomware Initiative, will boost their diplomatic push that includes direct talks with Russia as well as the NATO alliance and the Group of Seven wealthy nations.
© Thomson Reuters 2021