Amid an epidemic of ransomware attacks, the U.S. is sitting down to talk cybersecurity strategy this week with 30 countries while leaving out one key player: Russia.
The country that, unwittingly or not, hosts many of the criminal syndicates behind ransomware attacks was not invited to a two-day meeting starting Wednesday to develop new strategies to counter the threat.
The virtual discussions will focus in part on efforts to disrupt and prosecute ransomware networks like the one that attacked a major U.S. pipeline company in May, a senior administration official said. The attack on Colonial Pipeline, which led to gas shortages along the East Coast, was attributed to a Russia-based gang of cyber criminals.
The exclusion of a country so closely tied to the global ransomware phenomena reflects the overall poor relations between Moscow and Washington.
Despite that, the U.S. has used a “dedicated channel” to address cybersecurity with Russia, said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity to preview this week’s meeting with around 30 countries and the European Union.
Since President Joe Biden raised the issue directly with President Vladimir Putin this summer in a summit and later phone call, there have been “candid discussions” about cyber criminals operating within Russia’s borders, the official said.