U.S., Israel create joint task force to combat ransomware

The Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen announced Sunday the formation of a joint task force with Israel's Ministry of Finance to combat ransomware attacks. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI

Nov. 15 (UPI) — The U.S. Treasury announced Sunday the development of a joint task force with Israel’s Ministry of Finance to combat ransomware attacks and reinforce international cybersecurity.

In a statement, the Treasury said it and the ministry established the partnership to protect critical financial infrastructure and expand international cooperation to counter the threat of ransomware.

The task force will work to develop a memorandum of understanding in support of information sharing related to the financial sector, including cybersecurity regulations and threat intelligence.

The MOU will also address staff training and study visits and competency-building activities, such as cross-border cybersecurity exercises.

The announcement Sunday was made weeks after a counter-ransomware initiative meeting was virtually held at the White House in October with 30 nations, including Israel, in attendance.

During the meeting, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo called for international cooperation to counter illicit finance, including the abuse of cryptocurrencies in ransomware.

“As the global economy recovers and ransomware and other illicit finance threats present a grave challenge to Israel and the United States, increased information exchanges, joint work and collaboration on policy, regulation and enforcement are critical to our economic and national security objectives,” said Adeyemo, who was in Israel on Sunday for the announcement.

The Biden administration has sought to crack down on ransomware attacks and shore up the nation’s cybersecurity following a series of high-profile incidents by both state-sponsored and criminal organizations targeting the nation’s infrastructure.

Late last week, Vice President Kamala Harris met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, where the two leaders announced a series of initiatives, including efforts to advance international cooperation on cybersecurity.

Early last week, it was announced that Polish authorities in October arrested a Ukrainian and a Russian who are believed to be members of the Sodinokibi/REvil criminal organization, and sought by the U.S. Justice Department on charges of extorting millions from victims in ransomware attacks.

“Harnessing both the power of international cooperation and of technology innovation will position us to support economic competitiveness, prosperity and to combat global threats including ransomware,” Adeyemo said Sunday.


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