All it took was a fundamental disruption to the nation’s fuel supply and a threat to meat, but the U.S. Department of Justice is finally going to start taking ransomware seriously. Or, at least more seriously.
So reports Reuters, which on Thursday noted that the DOJ is “elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism.” This move, in part, will involve coordinating responses to ransomware with a single task force in Washington D.C.
Ransomware is a form of digital extortion that involves encrypting a victim’s files and then offering to provide a decryption key for a price, typically paid in cryptocurrency.
Thursday’s news was well received by experts in the cybersecurity field. Chris Krebs, the former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (who was notoriously fired by tweet), called out DOJ’s effort as a step in the right direction.
“This is a positive indication that we’re getting serious about stopping ransomware,” he wrote Thursday. “Much more needs to be done, but directional shifts are a good thing.”
Jackie Singh, a former senior cybersecurity staffer in the Biden campaign, explained what the DOJ’s move means in practice.
“Centralizing the data and clarifying the reporting structure means more effective information sharing between disparate agencies on a topic of growing importance and recognized risk, primarily due to the disruption at Colonial Pipeline, but also based on the hundreds of ransomware incidents which pose mounting threats to Americans,” she wrote over direct message.
According to Singh, this may actually have a meaningful effect on ransomware’s proliferation.
“This move may enable the White House and diplomats at the State Department to develop more effective geopolitical responses to foreign criminal cyber intrusion.”
Which, as ransomware continues to ravage companies around the globe, we can only hope.