The White House is bringing together more than 30 countries to discuss ways to counter ransomware attacks and eliminate safe harbors for criminals. Russia is notably absent from the international discussion.
The virtual meeting, which takes place Wednesday and Thursday, will focus topics including national resilience, misuse of cryptocurrency to launder ransom payments, diplomacy and efforts to disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals, according to senior Biden administration officials.
The summit follows several high-profile ransomware and cyberattack episodes in the US. So far this year, ransomware attacks have shut down a gas pipeline and a major meat producer, fueling concerns that other critical infrastructure is at risk. US officials have said both these attacks are likely linked to criminal groups based in Russia.
A number of federal agencies also fell victim to the wide-reaching SolarWinds hack uncovered late last year, which was attributed to a suspected Russian hacking group.
Officials said US engages directly with Russia on the issue of ransomware. When President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, one of the main topics of discussion was cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, whether launched by nation-states or hacking gangs within their boundaries.
The broad group participating in the ransomware summit this week highlights "just how pernicious and transnational" the threat of ransomware has become, said a senior official.
Countries attending the summit are Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, South Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, UAE and UK. The EU is also participating.