The US Treasury has announced that America and Israel will team up to build a defense against ransomware attacks.
The move comes in the wake of recent ransomware attacks that struck several big US companies, including an attack on the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, as well as significant ransomware attacks that struck Israeli institutions, including a major hospital.
Citing the “long-standing relationship between the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the US Department of the Treasury,” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo met with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Director General of the National Cyber Directorate Yigal Unna in Israel on Sunday “to establish a bilateral partnership to protect critical financial infrastructure and emerging technologies and expand international cooperation to counter the threat ransomware poses to countries and the global economy.”
The expanded cooperation is to take place under the auspices of a broader US-Israeli Task Force, also launched Sunday, on Fintech Innovation and Cybersecurity.
The announcement follows the Counter-Ransomware Initiative meeting held virtually at the White House in October with the European Union and more than 30 countries, including Israel. At that meeting, the Treasury Deputy Secretary underscored the “importance of international cooperation to address the abuse of virtual currency and disrupt the ransomware business model,” the Department noted.
“Harnessing both the power of international cooperation and of technology innovation will position us to support economic competitiveness, prosperity, and to combat global threats including ransomware,” said Adeyemo.
“As the global economy recovers and ransomware and other illicit finance threats present a grave challenge to Israel and the United States, increased information exchanges, joint work, and collaboration on policy, regulation, and enforcement are critical to our economic and national security objectives.”
At the launch in Israel, Adeyemo and his Israeli counterparts affirmed “a shared commitment to encouraging robust fintech innovation, while also reinforcing the necessity of working together to combat the cyber threats posed by nation-state and criminal actors to the global economy.”
The Task Force is to immediately begin developing a Memorandum of Understanding that supports (1) permissible information sharing related to the financial sector, including cybersecurity regulations and guidance, cybersecurity incidents, and cybersecurity threat intelligence; (2) staff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity and the financial system; and, (3) competency-building activities such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises linked to global financial institutions financial and investment flows.
In addition, The Task Force will launch a series of expert technical exchanges on policy, regulation, and outreach to support fintech innovation that features robust cybersecurity protections and that can advance compliance with international standards on anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, and countering the financing of proliferation, the announcement said.
Furthermore, the technical exchanges are to examine how cyber analytics firms, as well as fintech and regtech innovators, are developing new ways to mitigate illicit finance risk and to enhance public sector analytical and enforcement activities.
In that spirit, Treasury will also participate in the CyberTech Global Tel Aviv conference in Israel in January 2022, the announcement added.