G7 Warns of Crypto Threat From Tidal Wave of Ransomware Attacks

Paying ransomware hackers to decrypt infected computers doesn't always work, and may even be a crime in some countries.

Oct 13, 2020 at 4:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:08 a.m. UTC

G7 leaders Tuesday sounded the alarm about the global surge in ransomware attacks, calling the hacking technique a threat against the critical infrastructure of the world's top economies.

  • Canadian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, British and American officials said ransomware attacks against schools, hospitals and companies "have intensified in the last two years," and pose a particular threat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The statement said the G7 member nations will share information related to such threats, including financial information, cyber tactics and procedures, in order to guide coordinated action.
  • Ransomware attacks burrow into and encrypt malware into computer networks before demanding payment from the victims to unlock their files. But regaining control of one's network is seldom assured.
  • "The fact that criminals often demand that ransoms be paid in virtual assets is of particular concern," the G7 statement warned. Bloc leaders said "virtual assets" are hackers' pathway for money laundering.
  • Laundered crypto ransoms could end up financing terrorists or bankroll the state-sponsored "proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," the G7 speculated. (North Korea allegedly funded its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program with billions of dollars in hacked crypto.)
  • The statement called upon more countries to implement the Financial Action Task Force's virtual asset safeguards and praised the watchdog's information-sharing "travel rule."
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