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Russia missing from US-organized international ransomware event

US officials blame absence on host of reasons

This week, the US is organizing an international summit where participants will discuss countering the online ransomware threat. Russia is notably absent from the list of attendees. 

The meeting, organized by the National Security Council, will bring over 30 partners together to discuss how to counter the ransomware threat. Participants range from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United Kingdom to Estonia, Nigeria, and Bulgaria. 

The virtual summit will address four topics: How to disrupt ransomware actors and infrastructure, how to improve network resilience to attacks, how to change the financial systems that support ransomware, and how to increase international cooperation to fight this growing crime model. 

Four key partners will lead the event: India will lead and organize discussions around resilience; Australia will lead the session on disruption; the UK will discuss the issue of virtual currency; and Germany will focus on diplomacy. 

That focus on international diplomacy is notable, given Russia's absence from the event. President Biden discussed ransomware at a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, warning him that he would not tolerate cyber attacks on US infrastructure from Russia. 

A senior administration official said that Russia was not participating for a range of reasons. 

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"We’ve seen some steps by the Russian government and are looking to see follow-up actions. And 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," they said. The US also communicates directly with Russia on ransomware issues via a US-Kremlin Experts Group, they added. 

Ransomware payouts have nearly doubled in the last year. The US has suffered several high-profile attacks, including a successful assault on Colonial Pipeline that prompted authorities to order better security on US pipelines

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