Speaking at a hearing for the House Committee on Financial Services on Wednesday (Nov. 3) about how to address cyber attacks such as ransomware, U.S. House Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado said there had been a 1,318% increase in ransomware attacks on the banking industry just in the first half of 2021.
His testimony came as the White House’s National Cyber Director testified to a different committee Wednesday that cyberattacks traced to Russia are down, according to reports.
Perlmutter cited two cyberattacks from 2017 and 2019 on Equifax and Capital One that exposed data from hundreds of thousands of people.
Fellow speaker and committee member Rep. David Kustoff of Tennessee also brought up the recent Russian-based attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which disrupted daily life for Americans over the summer, and the ransomware attacks that have been proliferating throughout the pandemic.
In 2020, financial institutions experienced 23% of all cyberattacks, the Committee wrote on Twitter.
Perlmutter said at the end of the day, the impetus for this is the ubiquitousness of peoples’ digital lives.
“In both business and medicine, there’s something called the Sutton rule,” Perlmutter said. “Willie Sutton was a famous bank robber. When a reporter asked why he robbed banks, he casually replied, ‘that’s where the money is.’ They’re going after the obvious target. Banks and credit unions have long been targets for criminals. But today’s criminals don’t wield Tommy guns, and are not only after cash.”
The Committee tweeted that the financial sector has been the biggest target of cybercrime since 2016 and that lawmakers are looking into ways to be better prepared for cybersecurity threats.
However, cyberattacks that have been traced to Russia are down, although the White House’s National Cyber Director, Chris Inglis, said it was “too soon to tell whether that is because of the material efforts undertaken by Russians or the Russian leadership.”
“It may well be that the transgressors in this space have simply lain low in understanding that this is, for the moment, a very hot time for them, and we need to ensure that that continues to be the case,” Inglis said during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.
PYMNTS recently reported that lawmakers might be rolling out legislation to bar private companies from making ransomware payments. Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan said that a $100 million cyber response and recovery fund from this summer’s infrastructure bill was intended to dissuade companies from paying through government backing.
The FBI’s position is that making the payments is not advised.