O’Melveny Worldwide

Law360: How Ransomware Will Continue Wreaking Havoc In 2021

January 3, 2021

O’Melveny counsel John Dermody is quoted in this Law360 article concerning the ways in which ransomware will continue to test organizations in 2021. The publication reported that increased risk could force cyberattack insurers to consider limiting coverage while victims face the threat of punishment for paying hackers listed on the US government’s sanctions list.

“The government is recognizing that ransomware is a systemic problem,” said Dermody, former attorney at the US National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense. 

Recent statements from OFAC and Treasury reflect an approach of not looking at problems incident by incident, but as a whole, Dermody told Law360. “That might be tough medicine for victims of ransomware attacks, but it may be a necessary step to take,” he said.

The publication noted that while President-Elect Joe Biden appears prepared to wield significant penalties against state-backed actors who target the US with cyberattacks, it is unclear whether the incoming administration will take the further step of retaliating against countries that allow ransomware attacks to occur, even when the attacker has no direct link to the nation-state.

“I could see more of a focus on international diplomacy to pressure states to address the cybercriminal problem within their own borders,” Dermody remarked. “There are certainly nation-states that are creating and allowing an environment for cybercriminals to flourish.”

Law360 subscribers can read the full article here.