The United States and other G7 countries have warned countries that allow ransomware groups to operate from within their borders, and don't make any efforts to deter their actions, that they will be held accountable for their lack of action.
The warning comes as the leaders of the G7 group of countries have jointly announced a commitment to fight what they described as the global challenge of ransomware.
The declaration – made by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, England – follows a string of high-profile ransomware attacks.
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Organisations that have had their networks encrypted by ransomware in recent weeks include Colonial Pipeline and meat processor JBS. Colonial paid cyber criminals over $4 million in Bitcoin in exchange for the decryption key for DarkSide ransomware, while JBS paid $11 million after getting hacked and having their network encrypted with REvil ransomware.
Such is the extent of the problem that US President Joe Biden and the other G7 leaders have vowed to combine forces in an effort to combat ransomware attacks.
"We've agreed that we're going to work together to address cyber threats from state and non-state actors like criminal ransomware networks, and hold countries accountable that harbor criminal ransomware actors who don't hold them accountable," said President Biden.
A joint statement published following the G7 Summit specifically calls out Russia to do more when it comes to stopping cyberattacks and to "identify, disrupt, and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cyber crimes".
Many of the most notorious ransomware gangs are suspected to operate out of Russia and the consensus among cybersecurity experts is that Russian cyber criminals are allowed to conduct their operations, so long as they don't target Russians.
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The G7 countries have also vowed to ensure that organisations – particularly those operating critical infrastructure – are secure against cybersecurity threats like ransomware.
"The international community—both governments and private sector actors—must work together to ensure that critical infrastructure is resilient against this threat, that malicious cyber activity is investigated and prosecuted, that we bolster our collective cyber defenses, and that States address the criminal activity taking place within their borders," said a White House statement.
"The United States and our G7 partners are committed to working together to urgently address the escalating shared threat from criminal ransomware networks," the statement added.
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