Categories: CyberCrimeSecurity

Action Urged Over Ransomware ‘National Security Threat’

A group of more than 60 organisations worldwide has released a framework for dealing with the “urgent” problem of ransomware.

The Ransomware Task Force (RTF), announced by the US’ Institute of Science and Technology (IST) in December, includes governments, law enforcement, computer security researchers, academics and other stakeholders.

The group, backed by Microsoft, Amazon, the FBI and the UK’s National Crime Agency, issued nearly 50 recommendations aimed at spurring governments to take coordinated action.

The coalition argued that ransomware has grown beyond an IT issue into a “serious national security threat”.

National security

With ransomware gangs regularly targeting hospitals and schools, it is also a public health and safety concern, the RTF said.

RTF co-chair Jen Ellis, from cyber-security company Rapid 7, says:

“Citizens are being impacted by this every day,” said RTF co-chair Jen Ellis of security firm Rapid 7.

“It’s having a huge impact on the economy and the ability for ordinary people to access critical services.”

She added that the funds from paid ransoms are used in other forms of organised crime, such as human trafficking and child exploitation.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is also an RTF member, said it handed three times the number of ransomware incidents in 2020 as in 2019.


The RTF said hundreds of major attacks took place worldwide last year, including in the UK, with Emsisoft estimating the global cost of the problem at $42 billion (£30bn) to $170bn last year.

As part of its recommendations, the RTF urged governments to make it mandatory for victims to report if they do pay ransoms to criminals.

The group’s framework differs from others in that it advises a coordinated, government-led approach that designates ransomware as a national security threat.

It recommends the creation of a fund to support recovery for ransomware victims that do not pay, as well as increased regulation on cryptocurrencies to make it more difficult for untraceable payments.

International action

The group also urged countries to exert pressure on nations seen as safe havens for ransomware gangs.

Computer security firms have named North Korea, Iran and Russia as backing ransomware gangs, while the US last month sanctioned Russia on grounds including the support for “disruptive ransomware attacks”.

The RTF’s report laid out law enforcement options including paying for tips that could help target ransomware operations, and using intelligence techniques to observe criminal groups.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

DeepMind Co-Founder Suleyman Departs For Investment Firm

DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman leaves parent company Google for Silicon Valley venture capital firm after…

6 hours ago

US Legislation To Boost Chip Funding Set For House

US House of Representatives set to introduce bill on tech funding and domestic chip manufacturing,…

6 hours ago

Intel Says Ohio Site Could Become World’s Biggest Chip Plant

Intel chooses Ohio site for manufacturing investment that could grow to $100bn over ten years,…

7 hours ago

Digital Bank Chime Financial Plans Massive IPO

Chime Financial plans New York IPO worth up to $40bn after Covid-19 pandemic leads to…

7 hours ago

Twitter Shake-Up Sees Departure Of Top Security Staff

Twitter says head of security no longer at company and chief information security officer to…

8 hours ago

Google Asks Judge To Dismiss Most Of Texas Antitrust Case

Google asks federal judge to dismiss most counts of antitrust case filed by Texas and…

8 hours ago