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Key Takeaways from the 2023 Counter Ransomware Initiative Summit

Recently, the International Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI) wrapped up its 3rd Summit.

This event received extensive coverage in the media, with notable interviews and discussions, including insights from representatives of member countries and Anne Neuberger, the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor.

You can watch the CSIS video-interview and explore various reports on the summit through the embedded links.

In this post, we’ll highlight four significant aspects that stood out in the ongoing battle against ransomware.

1. No More Ransom Payments: One of the most significant outcomes was the public declaration by the 49 member countries that they will cease paying ransoms. This declaration underscores the collective stance that society should not incentivize ransomware schemes.

However, it’s worth noting that this commitment does not extend to private organizations, and governments may consider exceptions under unique circumstances.

2. Cyber Insurance: The discussion surrounding cyber insurance was noteworthy. While one perspective supports entities’ rights to seek insurance to aid in recovering losses after an attack, another view strongly opposes insurance policies that could potentially fund ransom payments.

Members of the CRI firmly believe that this approach would only encourage ransomware attackers. They see insurance companies requiring cyber hygiene measures, such as data backups, as a positive incentive for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity.

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published a report titled Cyber Insurance and the Ransomware Challenge in July of this year that unpacks this issue.

Here are a few excerpts from the RUSI paper:

“The cyber insurance industry has been heavily criticised for providing coverage for ransom payments. A frequent accusation, which has become close to perceived wisdom in policymaking and cyber security discussions on ransomware, is that cyber insurance has incentivised victims to pay a ransom following a cyber incident, rather than seek alternative remediation options.

“Over a 12-month research project, researchers from RUSI, the University of Kent, De Montfort University and Oxford Brookes University conducted a series of expert interviews and workshops to explore the relationship between cyber insurance and ransomware in depth.

“This paper argues that there is, in fact, no compelling evidence that victims with cyber insurance are much more likely to pay ransoms than those without.”

3. KYC and AML Regulations: The CRI stressed the significance of imposing rigorous Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations on Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), following guidelines outlined in section 15 of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

These measures aim to enhance transparency and accountability in financial transactions involving virtual assets.

4. Capacity Building: Within the realm of capacity building, two essential aspects were discussed:

a. Cyber Forensics: Enhancing cyber forensics capabilities to investigate and respond effectively to ransomware incidents is crucial. Developing expertise in this area is vital for countering cyber threats.

b. Blockchain Analysis: Understanding and analyzing blockchain technology are becoming increasingly important in tracking the flow of funds related to ransomware attacks.

This capability aids in identifying the individuals or groups behind such criminal activities.

These takeaways highlight the concerted efforts to combat ransomware and promote responsible cybersecurity practices on a global scale.

Additional Reading

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

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