[RSAC 2023] Five Eyes calls for international coalitions to defeat ransomware

By Dain Oh, The Readable
Apr. 25, 2023 8:05PM GMT-7

RSA Conference ― San Francisco ― Cybersecurity heads of four nations that have been sharing threat intelligence under the alliance called the “Five Eyes” participated in the RSA Conference on Tuesday, asking for multinational collaboration to defend citizens from surging ransomware attacks.

The leaders asserted that all nations should participate in the International Counter Ransomware Initiative (CRI), which currently has 37 member states worldwide, and should not provide safe haven for cybercriminals.

“Ransomware is a matter of public safety,” said Felicity Oswald, Chief Operating Officer at the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), at a panel discussion held at the Moscone Center on April 25. Representatives from Australia and Canada joined the conversation and agreed with Oswald regarding the severity of the ransomware threats.

Sami Khoury, from left, Rita Erfurt, Felicity Oswald, and Rob Joyce are participating in a panel discussion at the RSA Conference on April 25. Photo by Dain Oh, The Readable

Rita Erfurt, the threat intelligence senior executive at the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), pointed out that ransomware remains the most destructive cybercrime in Australia, referring to the agency’s annual cyber threat report. In last year’s report, the ACSC wrote that ransomware groups have evolved their business model, maximizing their impact by targeting the reputation of Australian organizations. “These things can be devastating to organizations in local public services,” remarked Erfurt.

Sami Khoury, Head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS), also stated that ransomware is “the number one threat affecting businesses” in Canada. “The actors have no scruples or morals, going out for children’s hospital and schools. That is the seriousness of this threat.”

The Canadian official further disclosed that Canada has been brushing the dust off its national cybersecurity strategy, which was established in 2018. The nation is now aiming to raise public awareness and build additional partnerships. “It is all about partnership,” emphasized Khoury.

According to Rob Joyce, Cybersecurity Director at the United States National Security Agency (NSA), threat information regarding ransomware has been consistently shared not only within the Five Eyes, but also between all 37 member states of the ransomware initiative, in order to disrupt the cybercrime infrastructure.

The Five Eyes refers to an intelligence alliance among five nations, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. Working together for decades, these countries have built trusted communities to share signals information, or SIGINT, almost immediately, regardless of their time zone differences, according to Joyce.

The multinational initiative on ransomware, which was announced by the U.S. government and its allies in November of last year, has been expanding its partnership with the rest of the world to put a curb on surging ransomware attacks. “Every nation should participate in the initiative because every nation is responsible,” stressed the cybersecurity leader from the U.K.


The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expertise in leading media outlets to success. Prior to establishing The Readable, Dain was a journalist for The Electronic Times, a prestigious IT newspaper in Korea. During her tenure, she extensively covered the cybersecurity industry, delivering groundbreaking reports. Her work included exclusive stories, such as the revelation of incident response information sharing by the National Intelligence Service. These accomplishments led to her receiving the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, a well-deserved accolade bestowed upon her through a unanimous decision. Dain has been invited to speak at several global conferences, including the APEC Women in STEM Principles and Actions, which was funded by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, she is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, further exhibiting her commitment to journalism.