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GAO Urges CISA, FBI, Secret Service to Improve Coordination Against Ransomware Attacks

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The FBI, Secret Service and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency should fortify their collaboration to fight the rising incidents of ransomware attacks on public and government institutions, the Government Accountability Office has instructed.

In a study published Wednesday, the GAO cited gaps in processes for assisting state, local, tribal, and territorial government organizations vulnerable to ransomware that put operations and services at greater risk.

Based on data from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, SLTTs reported approximately 2,800 ransomware attacks from Jan. 2017 to March 2021, the federal watchdog noted. It emphasized the importance of addressing such crimes in the government’s commitment to cybersecurity resilience.

To improve cyber ransom prevention and response, GAO recommended that FBI, CISA and the Secret Service bolster interagency coordination, and review the challenges identified by SLTTs in accessing federal assistance.

GAO also suggested the establishment of a coordinating council involving the Department of Education, K-12 schools, CISA and other concerned federal agencies. The recommendation is in light of research data showing that between 2018 and 2021, more than 1 million children were estimated to have been affected by cyber ransom threats, and took an average of two to nine months to recover from the incidents.