December 4, 2023

Anti-Ransomware Coalition: The US wants to ban ransomware payments

Freeing hijacked systems and data for ransom – but this doesn’t always work. Sometimes the keys don’t work, or hackers try again soon after.
Image: Terayuth Awanwong –

The US government wants to form a global coalition to eliminate the fertile ground for cyber extortion. According to a report by Bloomberg The Biden administration hopes to ban ransom payments after successful ransomware attacks. Bloomberg cites statements from Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser at the White House, who is currently trying to persuade other governments to join this approach. A meeting of high-level government representatives from various countries is said to be scheduled to be held in Washington at the end of October 2023, where the plans will be further detailed.

Neuberger told the news agency that she is very confident that an international coalition will be formed against ransomware hackers. If the ransom is paid, the extortion gangs’ business will continue to grow. That’s why it’s so important to enforce the ban. The ransomware swamp must be drained.

Ransomware – a multi-million dollar business for hackers

Last year, Chainasis estimated that about $457 million flowed to cyber extortionists around the world. This represents a decrease compared to 2020 ($765 million) and 2021 ($766 million), but it remains unclear how large the number of unreported cases is.

Affected companies often see paying the ransom as their last chance to quickly get their systems and data encrypted by ransomware and up and running again, thus preventing costly business interruption. However, companies often do not have valid plans on how to act in emergency situations. Additionally, homework when it comes to backup and recovery is done inadequately or not at all. Many companies around the world still have to work on their cyber resilience.

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The number of ransomware victims is increasing

Even if the total amount of ransom money extorted appears to be declining overall, there can be no talk of any mitigation. The number of ransomware victims worldwide rose by almost half in the first six months of 2023 compared to the second half of 2022. This has just been revealed through an analysis conducted by security firm Trend Micro. While 1,376 companies were crippled by ransomware attacks in the second half of last year, there were actually 2,001 more between January and June of this year — an increase of about 45 percent.

The 8 most important steps to protect against ransomware

According to Trend Micro, the United States remains the preferred region for hackers. About 950 businesses were shut down here in the first six months of this year. It is followed by Great Britain (132) and Canada (88). Germany (69) and France (62) completed the top five in the rankings of ransomware victims.

Given these numbers, it is not surprising that the United States wants to take tougher action against ransomware gangs. “You have to get to the root of the evil, and the root is the money,” Neuberger says, hoping a ban on paying ransoms will deter hackers. It is not known how the security expert intends to enshrine this ban in law and, above all, implement it on the ground.