The 50 members of the International Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI)—Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, India, INTERPOL, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay—met in Washington, D.C. on October 31–-November 1, 2023 for the third convening of the CRI. Previously participating states welcomed Albania, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Greece, INTERPOL, Jordan, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, and Uruguay as new CRI members.
During the third CRI gathering, members reaffirmed our joint commitment to building our collective resilience to ransomware, cooperating to undercut the viability of ransomware and pursue the actors responsible, countering illicit finance that underpins the ransomware ecosystem, working with the private sector to defend against ransomware attacks, and continuing to cooperate internationally across all elements of the ransomware threat.
Over the past year, this group of nations and organizations has grown and built upon the commitments made at the second convening of the CRI in 2022. Through unveiling operational tools, the International Counter Ransomware Task Force (ICRTF)—established at last year’s meeting—began developing platforms for coordinating and disrupting ransomware at an operational level. By adding thirteen new members to the coalition, the Diplomacy and Capacity Building Pillar expanded the CRI’s like-minded umbrella and incorporated capacity building efforts throughout all pillars and working groups of the CRI. The Policy Pillar led efforts to counter the business model that underpins the ransomware ecosystem. This included research on cyber insurance, victim behavior, seizure and confiscation of virtual assets, ransom payments, and best practices in incident reporting and information sharing. Throughout the year, the coalition sought to incorporate the private sector and integrate capacity building at every opportunity.
We remain committed to using all appropriate tools of national power to achieve these goals and jointly committed to the following actions in support of this mission.
2023 Key CRI Deliverables
This year’s CRI gathering is focused on developing capabilities to disrupt attackers and the infrastructure they use to conduct their attacks, improving cybersecurity through sharing information, and fighting back against ransomware actors.
- Leading a mentorship and tactical training program for new CRI members to build their cyber capacity, including Israel mentoring Jordan;
- Launching a project to leverage artificial intelligence to counter ransomware;
- Launching innovative information sharing platforms enabling CRI member countries to rapidly share threat indicators, including Lithuania’s Malware Information Sharing Project (MISP) and Israel and the UAE’s Crystal Ball platforms;
- Building the CRI website, maintained by Australia, which includes a forum for members to request assistance from CRI members;
- Encouraging reporting of ransomware incidents to relevant government authorities; and
- Sharing actionable information with the CRI members.
- Developing the first-ever joint CRI policy statement declaring that member governments should not pay ransoms;
- Creating a shared blacklist of wallets through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s pledge to share data on illicit wallets used by ransomware actors with all CRI members;
- Committing to assist any CRI member with incident response if their government or lifeline sectors are hit with a ransomware attack.
The CRI provides an opportunity to create long-term cooperative approaches and common understandings of accountability in cyberspace, consistent with international law as well as state actions as embodied in the Framework for Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace, endorsed by all United Nations member states.
Through the Policy Pillar, CRI members affirmed the importance of strong and aligned messaging discouraging paying ransomware demands and leading by example. CRI members endorsed a statement that relevant institutions under our national government authority should not pay ransomware extortion demands. CRI members intend to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s Recommendation 15 on the regulation of virtual assets and related service providers, which would help stem the illicit flow of funds and disrupt the ransomware payment ecosystem. CRI members also affirmed the importance of encouraging ransomware incident reporting within their own jurisdiction, and sharing meaningful information to strengthen our collective efforts to disrupt ransomware actors. The Policy Pillar also examined the centrality of the cyber insurance industry in tackling ransomware, and committed to enhancing engagement with industry, as well as undertaking research into the importance of developing effective crypto asset seizure regimes.
Over the next year, the Diplomacy and Capacity Building Pillar will continue to expand the CRI’s mentorship program and onboarding program. The Pillar will prioritize opportunities to inform potential new members about the Initiative, and it will develop tailored capacity building opportunities to match members’ and potential new members’ needs and requests.
Going forward, the ICRTF will build upon the successes of its inaugural year by operationalizing the tools and platforms developed by its members. Members will work toward attaining a comprehensive understanding of the ransomware threat by sharing information and exchanging knowledge through virtual seminars and labs. Members plan to create and share resources to build their national counter-ransomware capacity, working closely with the other pillars to develop practical tools for governments to prevent, respond to, and recover from ransomware attacks, uplift cyber capabilities across the existing CRI membership, and advocate new membership to those countries who will most benefit from what the CRI has to offer. The ICRTF will also continue to support transnational operations conducted by its members and collaborate with industry to target disruptive activities at key components of ransomware ecosystem, in recognition that ransomware is a cross-border and cross-sectoral threat that necessitates close collaboration across governments and sectors to be effectively combatted.
The third convening of the CRI leveraged the expertise of like-minded partners, private sector participants, and capacity building experts to further reshape the cyber environment so members are better equipped to combat ransomware. Members from around the world reaffirmed our joint commitment to building out our toolkit for collective resilience to ransomware, cooperating to disrupt ransomware, and working together to curb the illicit money flow that ransomware actors rely upon. We are building capacity through long-term cooperative approaches and refining our understanding of accountability in cyberspace, bringing us one step closer to rooting out criminal actors and responding with collective resolve. The members express their gratitude towards the countries who have taken on leadership roles in the CRI: the United States as Secretariat; Australia as lead of the ICRTF; Singapore and the United Kingdom as Policy Pillar leads; and Germany and Nigeria as Diplomacy and Capacity Building Pillar leads. Through the Initiative’s annual meeting, as well as the dedicated work that is happening between each gatherings, we commit to working together on a policy and operational level to counter ransomware threats and hold perpetrators of these vicious attacks accountable.