WASHINGTON , -- The Justice Department is increasing its efforts to combat ransomware, cybercrime by making arrests and taking other measures, according to its No. According to The Associated Press, the Biden administration is stepping up its response to what it considers a national security and economic threat.
Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, stated that she expects to see "more arrests", more ransom payments to hackers being seized and more law enforcement operations in the coming weeks.
Monaco stated this week in an interview with AP, "If you come to us, we're coming for you." Monaco declined to give details about the potential prosecution of any particular person.
These actions will build on recent steps, such as the extradition of a Russian cybercriminal to the U.S. and the seizure of $2.3millionin cryptocurrency in June to hackers. These actions come as the U.S. continues its struggle against what Monaco described as a "steady drummerbeat" of attacks, despite President Joe Biden's warnings last summer to Vladimir Putin about a series of lucrative attacks tied to Russia-based hacking groups.
"We have not witnessed a material shift in the landscape." Monaco stated that Russia's actions on this front will only be known in time.
Chris Inglis (National Cyber Director), painted a more optimistic picture Wednesday, telling lawmakers that there had been a "discernible decline" in Russian attacks on the U.S. but it was too early to know why.
Monaco said that they would not stop. We will continue to push forward to hold those responsible for pursuing our industries, holding their data hostage, and threatening economic security and personal safety accountable."
Monaco has been a fixture in Washington law enforcement for many years. She was a consultant to Robert Mueller as he was FBI director, and then as the head of the Justice Department’s national security division. In 2014, she was a White House official when the Justice Department brought a unique indictment against Chinese government hackers.
Monaco's current role, which includes oversight of the FBI, Justice Department components and other Justice Department parts, has made her an important player in U.S. government efforts to combat ransomware. This fight is not easy due to the volume of ransomware attacks and hacker attempts to penetrate private companies and government agencies. It is not clear how long-lasting the new actions will have.
Ransomware attacks, in which hackers encrypt and lock up data and demand exorbitant amounts to release it to their victims, are not a new phenomenon. In the past year ransomware attacks have been a growing problem with breaches of critical infrastructure and corporate networks.
Paid more that $4 million to Colonial Pipeline after a May attack which caused it to stop operations. However, the Justice Department was able to recover the majority through access to DarkSide's cryptocurrency wallet. Monaco stated that the public should expect more seizures like this.
JBS, the largest meat processor in the world, paid $11,000,000 in June to a Russian group called REvil. This hack was carried out by several firms that remotely manage IT infrastructures for multiple customers.
While the administration tried to stop the onslaught, ransomware was elevated to national security priority.
It also tried to extradite from South Korea last month a Russian hacker, Vladimir Dunaev. Prosecutors claim Dunaev was part of a cyber gang that used "Trickbot", a malicious program, to infect millions of computers.
Monaco stated that "You're going see more actions than you saw last week in days and weeks ahead."
It is not easy to hold foreign hackers responsible in the U.S., and ransomware groups are plentiful. Monaco stated that although recent attacks may not have generated as much publicity as those last spring, Monaco believes there has been no change in the behavior of opportunistic hackers who continue to target a variety of industries with attacks that could paralyze critical business operations or demand multimillion-dollar payments.
Monaco stated that she is sympathetic to the difficult decisions faced by companies, partly because she has had to deal with criminals' financial demands.
She was the counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to President Obama. While ransom payments for hostages are illegal and discouraged, the policy also clarified that ransom payments to families were not legal.
Joshua Geltzer (the deputy homeland security advisor for Biden), said that "what it reflects and frankly what this endeavor reflected was a feeling on Lisa's side that this was an area in which you needed an extraordinary balance of policy and humanity." He worked with Monaco at the Obama White House.
Although the U.S. government has been vocal in its opposition to ransomware payments, Monaco -- who faced criticism from hostage families during the Obama administration about the government's response -- said that the administration was listening to the victims and working with them.
Officials have not shown any interest in prosecuting hackers who pay ransom, but Monaco announced last month that it was ready to sue federal contractors who fail or fail to disclose they were hacked.
Monaco stated that he has seen companies not pay enough attention to this issue.
Even though the federal government is dealing with sophisticated cyber espionage, ransomware attacks continue to thrive. SolarWinds was a cyberattack in which Russian hackers used a supply chain vulnerability to gain entry to networks of private companies and federal departments. The Justice Department was one of the hardest hit agencies.
According to the Justice Department, more U.S. Attorney's offices had at most one compromised employee.
She said it was a reminder that anyone can be harmed by a sophisticated breach.
She stated that "we need to live up to our promises and practice the same vigilance in cybersecurity as we ask companies to."Updated Date: 04 November 2021, 17:45