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US, Israel to partner to protect financial infrastructure, emerging technologies from ransomware

Data. Stock Photo: Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay

Jerusalem, Nov 15 (MNN) The US and Israel have entered into a bilateral partnership to protect critical financial infrastructure and emerging technologies and expand international cooperation to counter the threat ransomware poses to countries and the global economy, the US Treasury said on Monday.

This expanded cooperation supports the Treasury’s sustained efforts in this domain and will occur under the auspices of a broader US-Israeli Task Force, also launched on Monday, on Fintech Innovation and Cybersecurity.

Building on the long-standing relationship between the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the US Treasury Department, US Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo met with Israel Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and National Cyber Directorate Director General Yigal Unna to enter the bilateral partnership.

The announcement follows the Counter-Ransomware Initiative meeting held virtually at the White House in October with the European Union and more than 30 countries, including Israel.

At that meeting, Deputy Secretary Adeyemo underscored the importance of international cooperation to address the abuse of virtual currency and disrupt the ransomware business model.

“Harnessing both the power of international cooperation and of technology innovation will position us to support economic competitiveness, prosperity, and to combat global threats including ransomware,” said Adeyemo.

“As the global economy recovers and ransomware and other illicit finance threats present a grave challenge to Israel and the United States, increased information exchanges, joint work, and collaboration on policy, regulation, and enforcement are critical to our economic and national security objectives.”

Adeyemo and his Israeli counterparts affirmed a shared commitment to encouraging robust fintech innovation, while also reinforcing the necessity of working together to combat the cyber threats posed by nation-state and criminal actors to the global economy. To advance these twin goals, the Task Force will pursue a variety of efforts and specific activities.

The Task Force will immediately begin work on developing a Memorandum of Understanding  supporting (1) permissible information sharing related to the financial sector, including cybersecurity regulations and guidance, cybersecurity incidents, and cybersecurity threat intelligence; (2) staff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity and the financial system; and, (3) competency-building activities such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises linked to global financial institutions financial and investment flows.

In addition, The Task Force will launch a series of expert technical exchanges on policy, regulation, and outreach to support fintech innovation that features robust cybersecurity protections and that can advance compliance with international standards on anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, and countering the financing of proliferation.

Furthermore, these technical exchanges will examine how cyber analytics firms, as well as fintech and regtech innovators, are developing new ways to mitigate illicit finance risk and to enhance public sector analytical and enforcement activities.  In that spirit, Treasury will also participate in the CyberTech Global Tel Aviv conference in Israel in January 2022.

Treasury’s actions are part of its continued collaborative approach to improving cybersecurity outcomes for the financial system, including public-private partnerships and close relationships with international partners. These actions are part of the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government, focused, integrated effort to counter the ransomware threat.

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