US urging allies not to pay hacker ransoms

White House
(Image credit: David Everett Strickler / Unsplash)

Ahead of a meeting of global leaders in Washington, the US will push governments to combat ransomware by making a public statement to not pay hacker ransoms.

Ransomware has seen a gradual rise in use in attacks targeting banking institutions, government offices and hospitals.

The plan is for the group of over 45 governments to publicly announce non-payment in cases of ransomware ahead of their annual gathering.

No negotiation with cybercriminals

Ransomware is a form of malware that steals data and encrypts it before hackers request a fee for its safe return, or else the files will be deleted or sold. Ransomware has seen a gradual increase in its usage by hackers over the past few years.

Speaking to Bloomberg, deputy national security adviser Anne Neuberger said, “You’ve got to go to the root cause, the root cause is money.” Ransomware is one of the most profitable methods for hackers, mainly due to the ease of simply paying the ransom and continuing to operate, rather than losing important data.

If governments issue the statement to refuse to pay it is hoped that hackers will stop targeting critical infrastructure with such attacks. However, while Neuberger said that she is “incredibly hopeful” about the statement being accepted and issued by governments, there is a chance that the statement will be a discussion point rather than a pre-agreed affirmation.

Recent research into ransomware has found that while advances in cyber defenses are becoming more advanced, so too are hackers' abilities to deploy ransomware after a successful breach - falling from 4.5 days in 2022 to within a single day in 2023.

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism Ben worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.