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UK, Singapore Ink Statement Against Ransomware Payments

The UK and Singapore have signed a joint statement opposing payments for cyber-related extortion.

The pledge was announced as part of the Counter Ransomware Initiative meeting in Washington, DC, an annual cyber summit involving international governments and INTERPOL.

The event is the third iteration of the partnership. Discussions involved techniques to improve collective resilience against ransomware, affirmation of member commitment and cooperation in pursuing actors, and protecting the private sector from these threats.

Disrupting Criminal Business

Under the statement, the British and Singaporean governments denounced all financial transfers to cybercriminals leveraging ransomware tactics.

The document also stated that members should refrain from paying attackers using funds kept by a central government.

The policy was signed at the first-ever international summit on artificial intelligence safety at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, also attended by China.

Exercise Army Cyber Spartan
British soldiers during the Exercise Army Cyber Spartan. Photo: Cpl Cameron Eden/UK MoD

“Crime should not pay. That’s why the UK and her allies are demonstrating leadership on cybersecurity by pledging not to pay off criminals when they try and extort the taxpayer using ransomware,” UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat explained.

“This pledge is an important step forward in our efforts to disrupt highly organised and sophisticated cyber criminals, and sets a new global norm that will help disrupt their business models and deter them from targeting our country.”

Focusing on Other Security Measures

Standard ransomware methods involve undetected access to computers through malicious software to lock or steal sensitive information in exchange for cash or cryptocurrency transfers.

The joint statement emphasizes that payments for such extortion fuel future operations of organized criminals and do not guarantee the removal of malware and release of data for victims.

“The joint statement today demonstrates that the UK and a likeminded community of countries do not support payment of online criminals as we know this only makes the threat landscape worse for everyone,” UK National Cyber Security Centre Chief Felicity Oswald said.

“Many ransomware incidents can be prevented by ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place. We strongly encourage organisations to follow NCSC advice to effectively mitigate the risks and help protect themselves online.”

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