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FBI Director Wray: 'There Are a Lot of Parallels' Between Challenge of Ransomware and 9/11

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FBI Director Christopher Wray is comparing the challenge of ransomware with the challenge that came with the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,” Wray said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

He added, “There’s a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American.”

According to the publication, ransomware is “a type of malicious computer code that locks up a victim network’s files that hackers use to demand payment for their release, typically with digital currency like bitcoin.”

Last month, a cyberattack prompted the Colonial Pipeline Company to shut down operations. The company operates a major energy pipeline in the United States.

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The company said in a statement it “proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.”

In another updated statement, the company said it had “determined that this incident involves ransomware.” According to the company, the pipeline is “the largest refined products pipeline in the United States.”

The attack increased gas prices to nearly $3 a gallon. The world’s largest meat producer, JBS, also suffered a cyberattack earlier this week. According to CBS News, the producer was required to halt cattle-slaughtering operations at 13 of its plants in the United States.

JBS USA CEO Andre Nogueira said in a statement, “We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans.”

He continued, “Given the progress our IT professionals and plant teams have made in the last 24 hours, the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational [Wednesday].”

Touching on the cyberattacks, Wray said, “Now realizing it can affect them when they’re buying gas at the pump or buying a hamburger—I think there’s a growing awareness now of just how much we’re all in this fight together.”

He continued, “The scale of this problem is one that I think the country has to come to terms with.”

The FBI director also said a “huge portion” of users of ransomeware have been “traced back to actors in Russia,” continuing, “And so, if the Russian government wants to show that it’s serious about this issue, there’s a lot of room for them to demonstrate some real progress that we’re not seeing right now.”

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