November 06, 2023Government Fights Back Against Ransomware, But What Does It Mean For Your Business?The U.S. government has started its latest combat mission in the war against ransomware, with plans to sanction financial exchanges that aid ransom payments [1]. The proposals, which could be in place as early as this week, make it harder for cybercrime victims to pay ransoms to hackers and easier to track payments that victims make. But do these cybersecurity plans go far enough? We investigate the changes below.
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How the Government Plans to Combat Ransomware

Cryptocurrency fuels most ransoms that take place online, making it tough to track these payments as they move from victims to cybercriminals. The government wants to sever the link between the public exchanges that facilitate ransoms and the hackers that receive them.

"Treasury officials did not say which organizations the sanctions will target, but the new sanctions will likely mark the most significant counterpunch to date against the criminal hacking groups that have bled hundreds of millions of dollars from U.S. companies and threatened national security," says The Washington Post [1].

Why Is the Government Doing This?

We know ransomware has become an enormous concern for organizations in recent years. Over 304 million companies experienced ransomware attacks last year, and 137.7 new kinds of malware circulated in 2020 alone [2][3].

Earlier this year, the Colonial Pipeline went offline after one of the largest ransomware attacks in history. The company that owns the pipeline paid $5 million to hackers to bring it back online [4].

The new cybersecurity proposals are the latest initiative in the government's war against ransomware. In May, the President signed an executive order that made it easier for governments and businesses to share data after a cyberattack, as well as a requirement for government agencies to incorporate multi-factor authentication solutions into their computer systems [5].

Will the New Plans Work?

We think sanctioning the public exchanges that expedite ransoms is a good thing. It should make it harder for hackers to receive those payments. However, we don't believe the problem of ransomware is unlikely to be solved soon. That's because hackers will find alternative ways for businesses to pay money to revoke access to computer systems and software. So organizations are still at risk of losing files and generating financial losses if they pay ransoms. Rather than waiting for the government to act, we think businesses should invest in infosec solutions that reduce the risk of ransom attacks from occurring. These solutions include penetration testing, where ethical hackers simulate a cyberattack against computer systems to check for vulnerabilities. Routine pen tests identify weaknesses in IT infrastructure before hackers find them and cause damage.

Final Word

While the government is finally taking action against ransomware, the problem is still as dangerous as it's always been. That's why we think data-driven businesses should take a proactive approach to infosec by working with pentesters and identifying system weaknesses. specializes in penetration testing for ransomware, DDoS attacks, social engineering attacks, and more. Let an expert identify system vulnerabilities and protect your organization. Learn more.