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Ransomware takes center stage in U.S. official’s Middle East trip

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will travel to the Middle East today, where he aims to build partnerships on ransomware and cybersecurity as threat actors continue to carry out attacks daily. Adeyemo will travel to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates and plans to discuss how to leverage technology to counter ransomware. Recently, the Treasury department blacklisted the Israeli spyware company, NSO Group, for selling spyware to foreign governments intending to use it to target journalists and government officials. The Biden administration continues to prioritize cybersecurity and routinely states a global effort is necessary to combat ransomware. Threat actors have taken notice of the increased pressure and global law enforcement actions taken against them. Binary Defense analysts routinely see discussions on dark web forums about the increased law enforcement action. Some ransomware gangs have even shutdown operations because of the pressure, although it is likely they will reappear or their members will switch to a new active ransomware gang. U

Analyst Notes

Organizations should also initiate proactive measures to ensure they are protected from ransomware. The US DHS website,, has links to resources that help organizations protect their systems from intrusions that lead to ransomware. 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.
• Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable timeframe for password changes.
• 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.