US and Israel partner on fintech and cybersecurity innovations

The US and Israel are spearheading new innovations in fintech, with many techs operating out of both countries.
6 December 2021

The hearing was held to discuss how federal agencies are combatting cyber threats and criminal hackers. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The US and Israel are leading fintech innovations, with many companies operating out of both countries. With so much at stake, the two governments have decided to partner on security issues on fintech development by creating a joint task force on cybersecurity and fintech.

The creation of a joint task force is to identify potential security threats, support robust fintech innovations — while fighting criminal and state cyber actors.  

Aim of the joint task force

The task force will strengthen each country’s cyber defenses, and collaborate on research and development. The two countries also agreed to set up a task force on artificial intelligence to make recommendations for cooperation within 30 days.

This task force aims to help both countries develop common goals, policy recommendations, and regulatory structures for these fields to lead to innovation in the financial sector.

This also comes with the need to help safeguard critical financial infrastructure and counter ransomware threats. In the wake of WannaCry and NotPetya threat outbreaks, the US and Israel are developing new methods to combat ransomware. 

The new unit will develop ways to share threat information between the two nations, the private sector, and offensive cyber capabilities.

High profile ransomware attacks

The rapid growth of the cybersecurity industry has long been playing catch up with increasingly robust ransomware threats. Ransomware has increasingly become a nuisance in recent years, demanding little to no technical knowledge from the end-user. 

The scale of cyberattacks that utilize ransomware is becoming more commonplace than ever before. This is especially true for larger organizations and governments, who hold sensitive information that can be used against them and their constituents by an outside party.

According to research by Cybersecurity Ventures, there are currently over 1 million cyberattacks a day. The US government estimates that cybercrime costs $400 billion annually, a figure expected to rise in years to come.

The world’s most significant ransomware attack yet was just in July 2021. The infamous hacker group REvil launched a massive attack on computer systems worldwide, including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). 

In addition, as of early November 2021, Cuba ransomware actors have compromised at least 49 US entities in five critical infrastructure sectors. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that this group had collected over US$40 million in ransom payments since they began targeting US companies.

US Treasury officials said a pending memorandum of understanding between the two nations would include: 

  • Financial sector information sharing on regulations and guidance, and on threat intelligence;
  • Staff training, study visits, and cross-border competency-building activities;
  • Technical exchanges on policy, regulation, and outreach;
  • Improved public sector analytics and enforcement.

Economic advantages of the collaboration 

 In a statement about the new collaboration, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said, “Harnessing both the power of international cooperation and of technology innovation will position us to support economic competitiveness, prosperity, and to combat global threats including ransomware.”

“As the global economy recovers and ransomware and other illicit finance threats present a grave challenge to Israel and the United States, increased information exchanges, joint work, and collaboration on policy, regulation, and enforcement are critical to our economic and national security objectives,” said Adeyemo.