The White House did not invite Russia — which the FBI has accused of harboring cybercriminals — to participate in a two-day summit on combating ransomware beginning Wednesday that includes virtual discussions with 30 countries, a senior Biden administration official said.
“Russia is not participating at this time, but we have a separate channel in which we’re actively discussing ransomware with Russia,” the administration official told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.
The official said the administration expects the Kremlin to “address ransomware criminal activity coming from actors within Russia,” and discussions between Washington and Moscow have been “frank and professional.”
The White House also shared information with Russian about cybercrimes being conducted inside the country, the official said, adding that Moscow has taken some steps to address them and the administration is waiting to see “follow-up actions.”
“Broader international cooperation is an important line of effort because these are transnational criminal organizations and they leverage global infrastructure money laundering networks to carry out their attacks,” the administration official said.
The summit begins Wednesday and will continue into Thursday.
The FBI has blamed REvil, a cyber gang operating in Russia, for carrying out ransomware attacks this year that affected hundreds of global businesses.
The group was allegedly behind an attack on JBS Foods, the world’s largest meat supplier, which eventually paid $11 million.
They also orchestrated the hacking of software company Kaseya that hampered operations of hundreds of companies and demanded $70 million in bitcoin as ransom.
The White House said the summit would concentrate on four areas — disrupting ransomware actors, bolstering defenses to such attacks, addressing the abuse of virtual currency in ransom payments, and urging countries not to harbor cybercriminals.
Ransomware payments hit $400 million globally last year and have already topped $81 million in the first quarter of 2021, the White House said.
The countries participating include Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.