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Amid a pandemic of ransomware attacks, the US is sitting with 30 countries this week to discuss cybersecurity strategy, while leaving Russia, a major player.

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The country, which unwittingly or not, hosts several criminal syndicates behind ransomware attacks, was not invited to a two-day meeting starting Wednesday to develop new strategies to counter the threat.

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A senior administration official said the virtual discussion will focus on efforts to disrupt and prosecute the ransomware network that attacked a major US pipeline company in May. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which led to a gas shortage on the East Coast, was attributed to a gang of cybercriminals based in Russia.

The exclusion of a country so closely tied to global ransomware phenomena reflects the overall poor relationship between Moscow and Washington.

FILE – A man with a laptop computer against a red background with a presumptive message related to ransomware on June 27, 2017. (Photo by Alexander Ryumintas via Getty Images)

Despite this, the US has used a “dedicated channel” to address cybersecurity with Russia, said the official, who asked anonymity to preview this week’s meeting with nearly 30 countries and the European Union. informed reporters on condition of

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The official said that since President Joe Biden raised the issue directly this summer with a summit and subsequent phone call with President Vladimir Putin, there has been a “clear discussion” about how cybercriminals operate within Russia’s borders. “It has happened, said the officer.

“We have several, and they are continuing, and we share information about specific criminal actors within Russia, and the initial steps Russia has taken,” the official said.

It is not clear what steps Putin’s government has taken. Russia does not extradite its own citizens, and FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbett told a security forum last month that he “sees no indication that the Russian government has taken action to crack down on ransomware actors that are permissible.” working in the environment that they’re made there.”

President Biden holds meeting on improving cyber security

FILE – President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 in Washington, DC, US. The CEOs of the business world joined Biden to discuss how the industry and Federer

Previous Coverage: Biden to hold 30-nation meeting on ransomware, cyber security

The issue was expected to be on the agenda in Moscow this week as state Deputy Foreign Minister Victoria Nuland met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov for talks.

The Biden administration took over amid a massive cyber espionage campaign known as the SolarWinds attack, which US officials have linked to Russian intelligence operatives. Ransomware attacks, which are typically carried out by criminal hacker gangs rather than state-sponsored groups, have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage to businesses and institutions and have become a major source of tension between the two countries.

According to the US government, ransomware payments reached more than $400 million globally in 2020 and more than $81 million in the first quarter of 2021.

related: Colonial pipeline attack: White House launches ‘all of government’ response

Actions taken by the Biden administration include banning a Russia-based virtual currency brokerage that officials say helped at least eight ransomware gangs launder virtual currency and issuing security directives that required pipeline companies to run their business. Cyber ​​security needs to be improved.

Most of this week’s ransomware meeting is expected to be private as participants will take part in sessions led by India, Australia, UK and Germany focusing on topics such as developing resilience to withstand ransomware attacks.

Other participants include Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Kenya.

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