The Department of Justice has launched a new task force specializing in combating ransomware attacks like those that halted operations of a major U.S. oil pipeline and a meat processing company in the last month.
Federal prosecutors across the U.S. have been directed by the DoJ to coordinate any ransomware investigations with the Washington, D.C.-based task force, according to a DoJ memo.
The new Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force will help track cyberattacks and digital extortion schemes and centralize the DoJ’s efforts to combat them.
The ransomware attack last month on the Colonial pipeline system, which resulted in gas shortages in eastern states, “underscore[s] the growing threat that ransomware and digital extortion pose to the nation,” the DoJ memo says.
The new guidance elevates the priority the DoJ gives to cyberattacks to a level similar to terrorism threats, according to Reuters, which first reported the new task force.
A recent wave of cyber attacks on government entities and companies have underscored the increasing risk to U.S. interests. Just this week, a cyber attack on JBS, the largest meat processing company in the world, shut down as much as 20% of U.S. beef production capacity. Last month, Colonial paid a reported $5 million to hacker group DarkSide after it was hacked. Many of the hacks originate from foreign countries, particularly Russia.
U.S. to give ransomware hacks similar priority as terrorism (Reuters)
Suspected Russian Cyberattack Wipes Out One-Fifth Of U.S. Beef Production Capacity: Report (Forbes)
Here Are Some Of The Major Hacks The U.S. Blamed On Russia In The Last Year (Forbes)