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United States Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on ransomware attacks

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United States Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on ransomware attacks

Photo: Win McNamee/Pool via Reuters

The US Senate Judiciary Committee will today convene a hearing to address the proliferation of ransomware attacks on US businesses and government entities.

Hackers infect machines with ransomware to encrypt systems and data, then demand a ransom from the victim to restore their systems and not share their data. Ransomware attacks have grown globally by 450% since the start of the pandemic, making the costs of these cybercrimes $6 trillion in 2021, quickly becoming more profitable than all illicit drug sales globally and representing the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history.

In response to recent cyberattacks on school districts and on critical energy infrastructure that compromised 45% of the US East Coast’s gasoline supply, the Biden administration has launched an all-government effort to counter ransomware. Unfortunately, the government’s slow response to these threats makes it likely that soon, large online organizations will make firmer security, like multi-factor authorization, a precondition of using their services.

Expect the Committee to discuss revising the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework as a means of mandating these security changes. However, lacking NIST regulation enforcement, this too is unlikely to entirely combat ransomware growth.

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