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Combating Financial Ransomware An Intercontinental Effort: Officials Featured

Officials in the U.S. and in Europe met recently to hash out strategies and devise a plan to combat economically disruptive ransomware attacks threatening consumers, businesses and the financial services industry.

To that end, a two-day workshop addressing these risks was organized by Eurojust and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The summit took place Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday, June 16, in The Hague, and it featured law enforcement officials, prosecutors and both public and private sector experts from 27 counties, according to the DOJ. Participants at the conference attended panel discussions and presentations dealing with transnational cooperation with respect to ransomware investigations, prosecution and victim remediation, according to the event organizers.

The financial industry, in particular, is reeling from these attacks as a recent report from VMware highlighted in Help Net Security indicates an increase in sophisticated, destructive attacks. Per the report, cybercriminal cartels have evolved operations “beyond wire transfer fraud to now target market strategies, take over brokerage accounts and island hop into banks.” 

These cybercriminals are increasingly stealing nonpublic market information like earnings estimates, notable transactions and public offerings data in addition to accessing direct capital and wire transfers, according to the report. “In fact, 66% of financial institutions experienced attacks that targeted market strategies. This modern market manipulation aligns with economic espionage and can be used to digitize insider trading,” according to Help Net.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the DOJ’s Criminal Division called for a concerted effort to combat these growing threats. “Only by working together with key law enforcement and prosecutorial partners in the EU can we effectively combat the threat that ransomware poses to our society,” Polite said. “I am confident that the U.S.-EU ransomware workshop will spur greater coordination and collaboration to address the ransomware threat.”

Participants included representatives from the DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the FBI, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Secret Service, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre and Eurojust’s Cybercrime Team. Private sector representatives included the CyberPeace Institute, Bitdefender and Microsoft.

Prosecutors on hand discussed relevant legislative changes, specifically those pertaining to the collection of electronic evidence, cross-border procedures and considerations and charging options, reads information from the DOJ.

From Twitter 

Raj Samani @Raj_Samani

"An important statistic to consider when negotiating a ransom 'Of the 80% of organizations that paid a ransom and suffered a second attack'… H/T @cybereason #ransomware #malware #cybersecurity"

“There is no doubt that the scale, sophistication and impact of ransomware attacks is significant, affecting all sectors of the economy and society at large. We warmly welcome the opportunity to join forces with our U.S. colleagues in combating this form of crime,” said Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran. “ …We are fostering closer cooperation not only between national authorities, but also between the public and the private sector. I am convinced that this will prove to be crucial in our efforts to protect our citizens against online and offline threats.”

Video of the opening remarks can be found here and here

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