EXPLAINER: No ransomware silver bullet, crooks out of reach

Political hand-wringing in Washington over Russia’s hacking of federal agencies and interference in U.S. politics has mostly overshadowed a worsening digital scourge with a far broader wallop: crippling and dispiriting extortionary ransomware attacks by cybercriminal mafias that mostly operate in foreign safe havens out of the reach of Western law enforcement.

Stricken in the United States alone last year were more than 100 federal, state and municipal agencies, upwards of 500 health care centers, 1,680 educational institutions and untold thousands of businesses, according to the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft. Dollar losses are in the tens of billions. Accurate numbers are elusive. Many victims shun reporting, fearing the reputational blight.

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The ransomware surge ruining lives
A global coalition of technology companies and law enforcement bodies is calling for “aggressive and urgent” action against ransomware.

Microsoft, Amazon, the FBI and the UK’s National Crime Agency have joined the Ransomware Task Force (RTF) in giving governments nearly 50 recommendations.

Ransomware gangs are now routinely targeting schools and hospitals.

Multi-Gov Task Force Plans to Take Down the Ransomware Economy
Ransomware has reached crisis levels across business sectors and across the globe, but a public-private Ransomware Task Force aims to stem the tide of attacks by disrupting the crooks’ business model.

The Institute for Security and Technology (IST) put together the coalition, which includes more than 60 members from software companies, government agencies, cybersecurity vendors, financial services companies, nonprofits and academic institutions. Big names associated with the project include the U.S. Department of Justice, Europol and the U.K.’s National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC); along with Amazon, Cisco, FireEye and Microsoft, et al.

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