The increasing ransomware attacks have become a severe issue for all nations globally. From the health care sector to information technology, ransomware attacks continue to loom over cyberspace. Threat actors target organizations by encrypting their critical networks and demanding high ransoms. They also threaten victims by exposing the compromised data online. Federal agencies stated that preventing ransomware attacks is the primary goal, after the FBI received nearly 800,000 cybercrime complaints in 2020, with reported losses of $4.2 billion.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that it is fighting against ransomware operators targeting the country. In a recent RSA conference, Alejandro Mayorkas, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, revealed the present threat landscape, cybersecurity challenges, and their plans to mitigate cyber risks.
Mayorkas outlined five areas to improve on, which include:
- Information sharing
- Modernizing federal cybersecurity
- Federal procurement
- Federal incident response
Ransomware – A National Security Threat
Mayorkas stated that ransomware attacks significantly increased with threat actors adopting new tactics to encrypt organizations’ critical data. Ransomware operators even leveraged the pandemic, impacting several vulnerable sectors including health care organizations, e-learning platforms, and remote workforce.
“Let me be clear: Ransomware now poses a national security threat. There are actors out there who maliciously use ransomware during an unprecedented and ongoing global pandemic, disrupting hospitals as hundreds of thousands die. This should shock everyone’s conscience. With respect to responding to ransomware attacks, we will strengthen our capabilities to disrupt those who launch them and the marketplaces that enable them,” Mayorkas said.
The U.S. government is planning to step up robust security programs to fight against ransomware operators. According to Mayorkas, the government will launch an awareness campaign to engage with partners like cyber insurance companies. Besides, the DHS is stepping up law enforcement action against cybercriminals and dark web markets, which are the center for all kinds of cyberthreats.
“The Department will step up our efforts to tackle ransomware on both ends of the equation. To preventing ransomware incidents, we will take action to minimize the risk of becoming a victim in the first place. We will launch an awareness campaign and engage with industry and key partners, like insurance companies. With respect to responding to ransomware attacks, we will strengthen our capabilities to disrupt those who launch them and the marketplaces that enable them,” Mayorkas added.
60-day Cyber Sprints
To tackle the rising cyberthreats and cybersecurity challenges, the government initiated new programs like 60-day cyber sprints, which focus on the most important and urgent priorities:
- The first sprint will focus on the fight against ransomware, a particularly egregious type of malicious cyber activity that usually does not discriminate whom it targets.
- The Department will step up our efforts to tackle ransomware on both ends of the equation.
- The second sprint will focus on the cybersecurity workforce, as we cannot tackle ransomware and the broader cybersecurity challenges without talented and dedicated people who can help protect our schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, and communities.
- The workforce sprint will focus on several elements. Front and center is support for our current workforce, who have done a heroic job protecting the election and now responding to two major incidents.