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Joint Ransomware Task Force Conducts First Meeting

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) co-chaired the first meeting of the Joint Ransomware Task Force (JRTF), an interagency body established by Congress to unify and strengthen efforts against the ongoing threat of ransomware. The JRTF will unify existing efforts and identify new initiatives to effectively leverage the unique authorities and capabilities across government and the private sector, including actions to protect against ransomware intrusions more effectively and to disrupt ransomware actors. At the meeting, participating agencies discussed how to leverage the JRTF to improve coordination and make measurable progress in addressing the ransomware threat. Some of the activities that will be coordinated by the JRTF include:

  • Prioritization of operations to disrupt specific ransomware actors.
  • Facilitating coordination and collaboration between federal entities and relevant private sector and SLTT entities to improve federal actions against ransomware threats, including efforts to increase adoption of defensive measures to reduce the prevalence of successful ransomware intrusions.
  • Identifying a list of highest threat ransomware entities updated on an ongoing basis.
  • Collecting, sharing, and analyzing ransomware trends.

Analyst Notes

The JRTF is part of the whole government approach to stopping ransomware. Although federal law enforcement agencies have prioritized combating ransomware, organizations still need to be proactive in protecting themselves from attacks. To protect against ransomware attacks, organizations should:

• Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline.
• Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
• Implement network segmentation.
• Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
• Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as practical after they are released. Implement monitoring of security events on employee workstations and servers, with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to detect threats and respond quickly.
• Use multifactor authentication where possible, and strong passwords
• Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts.
• Focus on cyber security awareness and training.
• Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.