Rise of Ransomware Attacks Threaten Our Nation’s Security

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a surge in ransomware attacks – from the rise in attacks against individuals, governments, and businesses, to attacks that led to the forced shutdown of critical infrastructure and supply chains.

An April 2021 report from the Ransomware Task Force, a group of more than 65 experts from industry, government agencies, nonprofits, and academic institutions who developed a comprehensive framework with recommendations to address ransomware, stated that nearly 2,400 American-based governments, healthcare facilities and schools were victims of ransomware in 2020.

So far this year, we have witnessed aggressive ransomware attacks against our infrastructure and supply chains. Recent victims of ransomware attacks include Colonial Pipeline, America’s largest pipeline operator; JBS USA Holdings Inc., the world’s largest meat company by sales; and Martha’s Vineyard ferry. Even more recently, a software used by nearly 60 congressional offices on Capitol Hill was also a victim of a ransomware attack. These recent attacks shined a light on and exposed the vulnerability of our current infrastructure systems that threaten our economy, public health and national security.

Following the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity. There have been congressional hearings on this pressing issue, including in the House Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and legislation to address the rise in cyber threats is expected to be debated this year.

This edition of Inside Story will explore the recent rise of ransomware attacks and some of the solutions that governments and organizations can take to protect American businesses and infrastructure from these attacks.

Gloria Story Dittus, Chairman, Story Partners