U.S. to give ransomware hacks similar priority as terrorism

The U.S. Department of Justice is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack and mounting damage caused by cyber criminals, a senior department official told Reuters.

Internal guidance sent on Thursday to U.S. attorney’s offices across the country said information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.

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White House Warns Companies to Act Now on Ransomware Defenses
The White House warned American businesses on Thursday to take urgent security measures to protect against ransomware attacks, as hackers shift their tactics from stealing data to disrupting critical infrastructure.

The bluntly worded open letter followed a string of escalating ransomware attacks that stopped gasoline and jet fuel from flowing up the East Coast and closed off beef and pork production from one of the country’s leading food suppliers.

White House warns companies to step up cybersecurity: ‘We can’t do it alone’
The White House warned corporate executives and business leaders on Thursday to step up security measures to protect against ransomware attacks after intrusions disrupted operations at a major meatpacking company and the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline.

There has been a significant hike in the frequency and size of ransomware attacks, Anne Neuberger, cybersecurity adviser at the National Security Council, said in a letter.

The Biden administration seeks to rally allies and the private sector against the ransomware threat
For years, the federal government treated ransomware as a criminal menace — not as urgent as hacking by foreign spies. But after a spasm of high-profile attacks that jarred the nation, the U.S. government now has begun framing the issue as a matter of national — and global — security.

The FBI director this week compared it to the challenge posed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On Thursday, a top White House cyber official urged corporate America to strengthen its computer security. And on Friday, the White House said that President Biden will raise the issue of Russia’s harboring ransomware criminals when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin June 16 in Geneva.

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