NSA: Sanctions on Russia Having a Positive Effect on Ransomware Attacks, Attempts Down Due to Difficulty Collecting Ransom Payments
National Security Agency (NSA) director of cybersecurity Rob Joyce told attendees of a recent UK security conference that ransomware attacks are down in roughly the last two months, and that trend can be traced directly to sanctions placed on Russia. Criminals that operate out of the country are struggling to find ways to cash out ransom payments and set up infrastructure, due in large part to sanctions attached to the invasion of Ukraine. The NSA cyber security director told the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Cyber UK event in Wales that criminal attempts on government agencies and critical infrastructure had made ransomware attacks a national security priority, and that most of the serious players in this particular segment of the criminal underworld are based in Russia. New sanctions against entities in Russia are thus having a dampening effect on ransomware attacks, as the criminals lose options for doing business with the outside world. Joyce said that this was likely not the only factor for the reduction in ransomware attacks, but was a significant contributor. Ransom payments are more difficult to process due to lack of access to assorted banking options, and inability to purchase necessary technology to set up the infrastructure for new ransomware campaigns.