The Department of Justice’s acting deputy attorney general announced this week that ransomware attacks would be prioritized at the same level as terrorism.
“We recognize this is an increasing threat,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
“It’s a specialized process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country, so you can make the connections between actors and work your way up to disrupt the whole chain,” John Carlin, the acting deputy attorney general of the Justice Department, said.
The number of ransomware attacks has surged in recent weeks.
Colonial Pipeline was attacked last month, leaving gas shortages around the nation. The company paid $4.4 million to regain access to its cyber system. Federal authorities say that a cybercriminal group in Russia was responsible for the attack.
JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company, has resumed most production after a weekend cyberattack. The FBI attributed the attack on the meat processor to REvil, a Russian-speaking gang that has made some of the largest ransomware demands on record in recent months. It is not known if JBS paid a ransom.
“To ensure we can make necessary connections across national and global cases and investigations, and to allow us to develop a comprehensive picture of the national and economic security threats we face, we must enhance and centralize our internal tracking,” federal guidelines obtained by Reuters said.
President Biden will discuss the recent ransomware attacks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their summit later this month, Psaki said Wednesday. Criminal hacking groups, DarkSide and REvil, which are responsible for the last two biggest hacks, are likely based in Russia.