Events that Resonate: Recapping the Ransomware Task Force’s Annual Convening and Inaugural Cyber Policy Awards

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Over the past several years, the number of ransomware attacks in the U.S. has continued to climb. From the ”panic at the pump” back in 2021 after Russian hackers took control of the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline, to cybercriminals compromising a water treatment plant in Florida in what appeared to be an attempt to poison the supply, and the deadly impacts of cyberattacks against U.S. hospitals nationwide – ransomware attacks pose a real threat to our safety and security.

In the rapidly approaching 2024 U.S. presidential election, the two leading candidates have put forth vastly different visions for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), which is responsible for federal efforts to defend U.S. interests against ransomware attacks. With looming national security threats and political uncertainty, convening policymakers and experts to discuss a comprehensive, coordinated strategy for deterring these threats is of the utmost importance. 

Led by the Institute for Security and Technology (IST), the Ransomware Task Force (RTF) was formed to unite key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to innovate new solutions and methods for combating ransomware threats. Glen Echo crafted a successful communications strategy to promote RTF’s policy recommendations, which captured the attention of federal policymakers and dozens of major media outlets (including a hit on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver!).

We proudly supported the Center for Cybersecurity Policy and Law (CCPL) as the central sponsor of RTF’s premier event: “24 in ’24: Doubling Down on the Ransomware Task Force Recommendations.” The 2021 RTF report has seen significant progress on half of its 48 recommendations. Experts reviewed the remaining 24 recommendations and suggested actions for further government progress. Key areas for focus include harmonizing incident reporting, strengthening public-private partnerships, and evaluating the costs and benefits of ransom payments.

The event convened leading cyber and national security policy experts from across both government and industry, including: 

  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Jen Easterly, Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), 
  • Chris Inglis, Inaugural National Cyber Director and former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Chris Krebs, Former Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
  • Kemba Walden, Former Acting National Cyber Director and RTF Co-Chair
  • Michael Daniel, President and CEO, Cyber Threat Alliance and RTF Co-Chair

“Ransomware is a national security threat that continues to impact both the public and private sectors and has real consequences for American consumers,” said Glen Echo Group Director, Connor Farry. “The U.S. must take these threats seriously and panelists suggested potentially implementing a ransom payment ban on companies.”

In reflecting on key takeaways from the event, Connor added, “CISA, as well as other cyber-focused departments across the federal government, will require proper funding and staffing to continue their progress in combating ransomware.” 

Following the main event, CCPL, in partnership with the Institute for Security and Technology (IST), co-hosted the inaugural Cyber Policy Awards, recognizing the efforts and work of leading cybersecurity experts across the globe.

The winners of the first-ever awards included:

  • The ​​National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity team 
  • Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies
  • The Tallinn Mechanism, A joint cyber venture between the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Sweden and the UK to help Ukraine protect its network infrastructure against Russian aggression. 
  • Chris Inglis, Inaugural National Cyber Director and former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency (NSA)

The missions of organizations like RTF and CCPL are critical in connecting policymakers to the insights and ideas of subject-matter experts in order to address the ransomware threat. At the Glen Echo Group, we are proud to convene leading experts and translate complex technical jargon and insider acronyms, to determine beneficial policy solutions. 

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