U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland warned Wednesday that ransom cyberattacks are “getting worse.”
“We have to do everything we can here,” Garland told lawmakers. “This is a very serious threat.”
The Attorney General’s warning at the Senate hearing on the Department of Justice’s 2022 fiscal year budget request disrupted US national security and law enforcement agencies following two high-profile ransomware attacks over the past month. , Raised a call for stronger cyber defenses.
Ransomware attacks provide a key for hackers to lock corporate or organizational data and unlock files in exchange for large sums of money.
Last month, a supposedly Russian-based cybercriminal hacked the computer network of Colonial Pipeline, America’s largest fuel pipeline operator, disrupting supply on the east coast and launching panic buying. .. Colonial then said he paid $ 4.4 million to regain access to the network. On Monday, the Justice Department revealed that it had seized most of the ransom.
Last week, a ransomware criminal attacked JBS USA, the US division of the world’s largest Brazilian-based fresh beef and pork processor. JBS refused to pay the ransom and was forced to close its processing facility in the United States.
The White House says the criminal gang behind both the attacks known as DarkSide and REvil is likely to be based in Russia, but authorities claim ties with the Kremlin. not. The Justice Department has identified DarkSide as a hacking group targeted by law enforcement officers for retaliation and ransom collection.
The ransomware attack could follow a June 16 meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Secretary of State Blinken told lawmakers Monday that Mr. Biden would tell President Putin that he “cannot be involved in the business of concealing those involved in this type of attack.”
Ransomware was once considered a financial crime as cybercriminals attacked local governments, schools, hospitals and other important service providers, demanding millions of dollars in ransom. , Has emerged as a national security threat in the last few years.
According to a May 12 report by Check Point Research, ransomware attacks have more than doubled this year since early 2020, making health care and utilities the most commonly targeted.
“You can imagine what would happen if there were multiple attacks on the underlying infrastructure at the same time, so I’m very worried about that. The administration is the same,” Garland said. It was. “That’s why we demanded a significant increase in our cyber budget.”
The Justice Department’s budget of about $ 36 billion includes about $ 1.1 billion for cybersecurity. According to Garland, if Congress approves, this will be the largest increase in cybersecurity resources in the sector over the last decade or more.
In April, prior to the colonial attack, the Justice Department set up an internal task force specializing in developing strategies to combat ransomware. Its first major operation was to recoup most of the millions of dollars Colonial paid to hackers on the dark side for ransom, said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Garland called the recovery a “great success,” but said it wasn’t enough.
“This needs to be a constant focus,” he said, adding that he had discussed the issue with the counterparts of major US allies.
U.S. Attorney General Ransomware warns that “it’s getting worse”
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