US and Israel Agree Anti-Ransomware Coalition

The US and Israel yesterday announced a new bilateral partnership designed to tackle ransomware.

The move comes as part of the new US-Israeli Task Force launched on Sunday slated to cover Fintech Innovation and Cybersecurity more broadly.

Its participants are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support joint activities, including information sharing in threat intelligence, security guidance and regulations.

Also mooted are staff training, study visits and cross-border competency-building initiatives such as cybersecurity exercises linked to finance and investment flows.

The task force will launch a series of technical exchanges on policy, regulation and outreach to ensure robust cybersecurity is built into fintech innovation early. It will also work on advancing compliance with anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and nuclear proliferation financing.

There were very few details on how the two countries plan to tackle ransomware specifically, even though the Treasury trumpeted this as the headline aspect of the new bilateral agreement.

“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 deputy secretary of the Treasury, Wally Adeyemo.

“As the global economy recovers and ransomware and other illicit finance threats present a grave challenge to Israel and the US, increased information exchanges, joint work and collaboration on policy, regulation, and enforcement are critical to our economic and national security objectives.”

The deal comes just weeks after a virtual Counter-Ransomware Initiative hosted by the White House last month and attended by representatives from the EU and 30 other countries, including Israel.

While the US is regularly touted as the number one target for ransomware actors, Israel is coming under increasing fire from its rivals in the Middle East.

In May, multiple companies were hit by suspected Iranian group ‘Networm,’ while earlier this month, another Tehran-backed outfit, BlackShadow, leaked sensitive data from hundreds of thousands of medical patients and members of an online LGBTQ collective.