White House Plans Ransomware Task Force: Report

White House Plans Ransomware Task Force: Report

The White House is creating a new group to investigate and tackle ransomware, including cryptocurrency payments, Politico reported Wednesday.

The task force will try to find ways of “halting ransom payments made through cryptocurrency platforms,” the report said, alongside other missions like helping potential ransomware victims bolster their internal defenses, and launching attacks against ransomware operators.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will host a conference, and other branches of the government will provide different resources for potential ransomware victims, according to the report, which cited Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technologies Anne Neuberger.

A spokesperson for FinCEN hadn’t responded to CoinDesk’s request for comment by time of publication. A spokesperson for Neuberger could not immediately be located.

Ransomware has become an increasingly important focus for U.S. lawmakers and federal officials after several high profile attacks on different infrastructure firms, including Colonial Pipeline, a fuel logistics company, and JBS, a meat purveyor. Both companies paid bitcoin ransoms to their attackers, though federal officials were later able to recover most of the ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline.

Most recently, an IT solutions firm called Kaseya suffered a ransomware attack, which may have impacted hundreds of other firms that rely on Kaseya’s client Managed Service Providers.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced it plans to hold a hearing on ransomware later this month, and other lawmakers have sent different companies questions about paying ransoms.

It’s unclear what sort of proposed regulations around crypto may emerge from this task force. Members of an international Ransomware Task Force said in an April report that more consistent enforcement of anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) laws in different nations would be the most effective tool for mitigating payments, rather than attempting to ban cryptocurrency or prevent its use entirely.

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