FBI’s Christopher Wray: Ransomware Threats Akin To 9/11 Attacks

FBI, Christopher Wray, Ransomware, threats, 9/11

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating roughly 100 varieties of ransomware, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (June 4). These challenges, many of which originated in Russia, are similar to the 9/11 attacks, agency Director Christopher Wray told WSJ.

“There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,” Wray told WSJ. “There’s a shared responsibility not just across government agencies, but across the private sector and even the average American.”

Attacks on meat processing giant JBS and fuel supplier Colonial Pipeline prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to point to ransomware as a national security threat. The Colonial Pipeline, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, is among the biggest in the U.S., carrying about three million barrels of fuel daily across 5,500-plus miles from Houston to New York. It reportedly paid about $4.4 million to regain control of its operations and restore service.

Earlier this month, the former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) attorney John Reed Stark said that digital currency investors facilitate the criminal activity of hackers. He called crypto the “essence of ransomware,” per WSJ.

Senior FBI officials have compared cyberattacks to the post-9/11 maneuver against international terrorism. Wray said the recent ransomware attacks have turned the spotlight on how it affects everyday Americans.

Stark told CNBC on Thursday (June 3) that cryptocurrencies are essentially useless, calling them the “essence of ransomware.” There have been numerous incidents reported about ransomware attacks demanding payment in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. 

The U.S. Department of Justice said this month that ransomware attacks are now a priority. The Colonial Pipeline hack, for example, threatened the transportation of fuel for several days. As PYMNTS reported, experts from cybersecurity executives to the White House are taking these threats seriously.