The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking to elevate investigations surrounding ransomware attacks to be on par with how terrorism is prioritized, reports noted Thursday.
The recent increase in cyberattacks targeting U.S. interests, including the fallout from the East Coast’s Colonial pipeline hack, have prompted officials to take decisive action, Reuters first reported.
A DOJ spokesperson told Fox News the department has made it a “key priority” to target the “expediential growth of ransomware.””A central goal of the recently launched Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force is to ensure we bring to bear the full authorities and resources of the Department in confronting the many dimensions and root causes of this threat,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco wrote in a memo obtained by Fox News Thursday.
The cyberattack last month against the largest U.S. fuel pipeline lasted for seven days, causing a spike in gas prices and temporary fuel shortages.
Ultimately, Colonial chose to payout $5 million in ransom funds a criminal group based in Russia in order to regain access to their system.
Internal guidance sent to U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide pointed to the Colonial attack as an example of the “growing threat that ransomware and digital extortion pose to the nation.”
Resident Fellow for American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Klon Kitchen told Fox News, “There are often very serious consequences companies are facing.”
Kitchen said that had Colonial not paid the $5 million ransom, they could have faced much higher costs as their system remained tied up.