Ransomware attacks are one of the most pressing threats faced by public and private sectors, India has told a US-led international meet on the latest emerging challenge and has called for taking steps to ensure that the country's critical infrastructure remains safe and secure.

Representing India at the Counter Ransomware Initiative, hosted by the White House, Lt. Gen (Retd) Rajesh Pant, National Cybersecurity Coordinator, told the participating 30 countries that the rapid digitization and cryptocurrency have added to the vulnerabilities in the cyber domain.

“Ransomware is an evolving form of a cyber threat and the culprits are becoming more sophisticated and agile. The upcoming Global dynamics have also created a digital climate ripe for exploitation,” Pant said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has further added fuel to this and introduced many IT vulnerabilities due to the hasty Digital Transformation,” he added.

“Another contributor is the rising prominence of cryptocurrency, which is seemingly difficult to trace,” he said at the two-day conference on Wednesday.

The conference concluded on Thursday with a joint statement from 30 countries in which they pledged to act against safe havens for ransomware players.

India, considered an IT superpower, played a key role by leading discussions on resilience.

“In today’s world, Ransomware attacks are one of the most pressing threats faced by Public and Private sectors,” Pant said, adding that by the end of 2021, ransomware is expected to attack a company every 11 seconds and cause damages of up to $20 billion.

“In light of these rising threats, we need to ensure that our organisations, especially the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure, remain safe and secure,” he said.

Pant said it is the collective responsibility of the international community now to ensure that global cyberspace is not dominated by criminal activities such as Ransomware and “we create for our future generations” a safe, secure and resilient cyberspace.

The Indian official appreciates the US initiative of bringing 30 nations on a common platform to discuss and find solutions to improve our collective resilience, misuse of virtual currency, and need to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of ransomware.