INTERPOL Calls for Global Action to Prevent ‘Ransomware Pandemic’

Criminals made $350mn in 2020 from ransomware payments, representing an increase of 311% in one year.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock has called for police agencies worldwide to form a global coalition with industry partners to prevent a potential ransomware pandemic.

Speaking at the INTERPOL High-Level Forum on Ransomware (12 July), Secretary General Stock said that while some solutions existed nationally or bi-laterally, effectively preventing and disrupting ransomware meant adopting the same international collaboration used to fight terrorism, human trafficking or mafia groups.

The call to scale up collaboration against ransomware was made in the face of its exponential growth in the wider cybercrime ecosystem, with criminals shifting their business model towards providing Ransomware-as-a-Service.

“Despite the severity of their crimes, ransomware criminals are continuously adapting their tactics, operating free of borders and with near impunity,” said Secretary General Stock.

“Much like the pandemic it exploits, ransomware is evolving into different variants, delivering high financial profits to criminals.”

According to Stock, ransomware has become too large of a threat for any entity or sector to address alone. He said the magnitude of the challenge urgently demands united global action, which INTERPOL can facilitate.

Research from Chainalysis found that criminals made USD 350 million in 2020 from ransomware payments, representing an increase of 311 percent in one year.

Over the same period, the average ransom payment increased by 171 percent, according to Palo Alto Networks.

Four recommendations are provided to create a global leadership framework for action to disrupt and mitigate the impact of ransomware:

  • Raise awareness, partnerships and information sharing
  • Target pre-exploit disruption of ransomware and its ecosystem through reactive and proactive global law enforcement actions
  • Provide in-event emergency support against ransomware attacks using INTERPOL’s global network and capabilities
  • Ensure post-event support following ransomware attacks to increase resilience, agility and responsiveness

“Policing needs to harness the insights of the cyber security industry, computer emergency response teams and other agencies to identify and disrupt cyber criminals as part of a true coalition, working together to reduce the global impact of cybercrime,” Secretary General Stock said.

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