The White House is urging private companies to take the threat of cyberattacks seriously as ransomware hacks ‘have increased significantly’

Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger
Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger speaks about the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack during the daily press briefing at the White House on May 10, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The Biden Administration is calling on the private sector to do more in the fight against cybercrime.
  • “The number and size of ransomware incidents have increased significantly,” the administration says.
  • The memo follows an attack on the world’s largest meatpacker, which shut down several US factories.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The private sector needs to do more to defend itself in the face of a rising cybersecurity threat, the White House said in a memo addressed to corporate executives and business leaders on Wednesday.

“The number and size of ransomware incidents have increased significantly,” wrote Anne Neuberger, Biden’s deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology.

“The private sector also has a critical responsibility to protect against these threats,” she added. “All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location.”

The memo follows the latest attack on a key resource supplier in the US by ransomware attackers said to be based in Russia. Over the weekend, the world’s largest meat processor, JBS, was forced to shut down much of its North American operations after an attack the FBI attributed to a group known as Pinchy Spider.

And in April, the Colonial Pipeline was temporarily shut down when the company’s IT infrastructure was held hostage by the hackers known as Darkside for a ransom worth $4.4 million.

This week, the New York subway system and a Massachusetts ferry operator were each victims of cyber attacks.

Business leaders should immediately discuss their risk exposure and response strategies, the memo said, including following guidance outlined in last month’s Executive Order on improving the country’s cybersecurity.

The “highly impactful steps” include using a multi-factor authentication system instead of relying on passwords, conducting regularly scheduled data backups, keeping systems updated, and segmenting networks so an attack doesn’t bring the whole system down.

“Much as our homes have locks and alarm systems and our office buildings have guards and security to meet the threat of theft, we urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat,” the memo said.

Read the original article on Business Insider