DOJ To Elevate Ransomware Attacks to Same Level As Terrorism

"Cyberkriminalität" (Public domain) by Bankenverband

The Justice Department is looking to elevate the ransomware attacks to be on par with terrorism. 

On Thursday, reports noted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is studying to raise investigations around ransomware attacks to be on the same level as the prioritization of terrorism.

A DOJ spokesperson said that the department declared it a “key priority” to address this issue due to ransomware attacks’ “expediential growth.”

Lisa Monaco, the deputy attorney general, also wrote in a memo the central goal of the newly launched Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force. 

According to the deputy attorney general, they are tasked to ensure full authority and resources in confronting the different dimensions and causes of these attacks. 

Last month, Colonial Pipeline paid $5 million ransom money 

Last month, the cyberattack targeted the largest U.S. fuel pipeline. It lasted for seven days and caused a spike in gas prices. Moreover, it also caused temporary fuel shortages in some states. 

As a result of this attack, the company opted to payout the $5 million ransom that the criminal group asked them to reacquire access to their system. 

According to the internal guidance sent to U.S. attorneys’ offices nationwide, the Colonial attack marked an example of the increasing threat that ransomware attacks and digital extortion pose to the country. 

Then just last week, the largest meat producer in the U.S., JBS, was targeted by another ransomware assault. According to the White House, the criminal group is most likely based in Russia.

Meanwhile, experts believe that the Russia-based ransomware attacks that targeted the U.S. are directly related to the upcoming summit on June 16.

According to former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman, these attacks are Putin’s “resurgence strategy.”

Companies face serious consequences.

Klon Kitchen, the resident fellow for American Enterprise Institute (AEI), added that these companies often face serious consequences. He added that had Colonial not paid the $5 million ransom, they might have faced higher costs as their system continued to be on hold. 

However, the national security-focused resident fellow also explained that giving criminal groups the ransom also has its own risks.  

Kitchen said you do not know if the attackers will unlock the system once they get the money. Secondly, paying ransom also encourages other criminal groups to engage in the same activity. 

“Data Security Breach” (CC BY 2.0) by Blogtrepreneur

Investigators in U.S. attorneys’ offices all over the country are required to provide details of their investigations with federal officials. 

Accordingly, the DOJ spokesperson added that they want to make sure that prosecutors and criminal investigators provide reports and track exchanges of cryptocurrency, messages in illicit online forums; they are also expected to track marketplaces where hacking tools are made available for sale. 

In the upcoming Geneva summit on June 16, Biden is expected to address the rise of cyberattacks from Russia-based criminals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.