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G7 Summit Turns Spotlight on Crypto-Led Ransomware Attack


In recent weeks, high-profile ransomware attacks on global corporate and government infrastructure has brought greater public attention to these types of threats. This year’s G7 Summit that recently took place at Cornwall, UK had a major focus on Cyber-attacks and Ransomware threats as the group comprising seven member countries including USA, UK, Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany, France committed to fighting ransomware attacks, which it believes is typically facilitated by cryptocurrency.

The group referred to several high-profile attacks against corporations including the attacks on Colonial Pipeline and the meat supply company JBS that have crippled major infrastructure across the U.S., disrupting supply chains and driving up the price of gas and meat. Both companies were forced to pay ransoms in Bitcoin.

A ransomware attack is a type of hacking in which a cyber criminal will infiltrate a computer system and compromise data or operations. The hacker will then require financial compensation from the owner of the system for the data or systems to be returned to the owner.

At the three-day summit of world leaders unanimously agreed that ransomware has become the biggest threat to people and businesses and its impact has been felt across the globe over the last one year. The group singled Russia out by name — urging Vladimir Putin to “identify, disrupt and hold to account” cyber-criminals operating from the country.

“We reaffirm our call on Russia to … identify, disrupt and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cyber crimes,” the group said in the Carbis Bay communique issued following the closure of the G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK.

Hackers and criminal groups, as the group identified, are leveraging infrastructure, virtual currency, and money laundering networks, and target victims all over the globe, often operating from geographic locations that offer a permissive environment for carrying out such malicious cyber activities.

Chainalysis, a blockchain data and analytics company, estimates the amount of crypto heisted in ransomware attacks grew 311% last year. In the first four and a half months of this year, ransomware was responsible for at least $81 million in stolen funds worldwide.

In a speech being given by Lindy Cameron, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), she highlights the need for ransomware problem to be taken seriously, and warns of the “cumulative effect” if society fails to properly deal with the rising threat.

The number of cyber crimes committed worldwide in 2020 was 69% higher than the previous year’s total. Ransomware was involved in 27% of these and a total of $1.4bn was demanded, according to a report published in May by US data security company Zscaler.

“Covid-19 has driven a huge ransomware surge,” Deepen Desai, Zscaler’s CIO officer mentions. “Our researchers witnessed a five-fold increase in such attacks starting in March 2020, when the World Health Organization declared the pandemic.”

Criminals seeking to exploit the network vulnerabilities created by the general shift to remote working during the Covid crisis either developed more sophisticated hacking methods or, seeking a shortcut, paid for ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).

Cameron says that although state-sponsored cyber attacks represent a “malicious strategic threat to the national interests,” the problem goes deeper than that, stating the dangerous development, the RaaS model has democratized the ability to launch attacks and that such raids are “often enabled and facilitated by states acting with impunity.”

Cybersecurity experts believe, ransomware being a longstanding global challenge, and the threat continues to escalate in both scale and sophistication and that the hackers who’ve transformed ransomware attacks into a multi-billion-dollar industry are more professional than their high-profile corporate victims.

Chief Analyst of 5Jewels Research Sumant Parimal however observes that while is good to note that Cyber security has emerged as a key agenda for G7 Summit 2021 in line with Quad Summit 2021, which highlights how much importance Digital Business Ecosystem has created for all concerned countries, we do believe that only source based resolution for cyber-attacks and cyber-crimes are not enough for safeguarding G7 member countries Digital Economy ecosystem.

He states that G7 leaders have adopted a resolution largely fixing source side problems of Cyber-attack by designating accountability to some of the countries from where most of the cyber attacks and ransomware crimes get originated, while keeping silence on jointly deploying suitable solutions for preventing such cyber-attacks and crimes.

According to him, G7 countries also need to work on enhancing their Cyber Security systems by deploying targeted Artificial Intelligence (AI) based threat detection and prevention solutions, which proactively defeats efforts of cyber attackers to compromise systems and data.

“With increasing complexity of cyber-attacks, cyber-crimes and other risks associated with these Cyber-attacks we do believe that super-intelligent, self-learning, adaptive and self-responsive threat protection and prevention systems based on AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning solutions should be deployed at key Digital infrastructure establishments of G7 countries. However as per our estimate, at present G7 countries are directing only around 0.1% of their Tech.

Spend towards deploying AI solutions for Cyber Security, which need to be increased over 10-fold. We do believe that G7 should inject $50B in AI deployment to Full Proof Cyber Security with immediate effect starting current fiscal, Parimal adds.

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