US and Israel announce joint task force on cybersecurity

The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Sunday that it would work with the Israeli Ministry of Finance to address ransomware and cybersecurity issues.

The task force will aim "to protect critical financial infrastructure and emerging technologies" while also expanding "international cooperation to counter the threat" of ransomware globally, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.

The countries will develop a memorandum of understanding to support information sharing efforts in the financial sector surrounding issues like cybersecurity guidance, incidents and threat intelligence in addition to staff training and other activities, according to the Treasury Department.

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“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,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally AdeyemoWally AdeyemoTreasury redirecting rental assistance funds to address backlogs DOJ charges two Iranians with interference in 2020 election Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Tackling the misinformation 'crisis' MORE said in the statement.

The announcement comes a week after Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sought to distance the government from the NSO group, an Israeli company that was blacklisted by the U.S. for selling spyware used to attack the smartphones of journalists, activists and government officials. 

Last month, the White House hosted a virtual Counter-Ransomware Initiative meeting with the European Union, Israel and dozens of other countries.

During that meeting, Adeyemo highlighted the need for "international cooperation to address the abuse of virtual currency and disrupt the ransomware business model," Sunday’s statement added.

The collective effort was announced after Adeyemo met with Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Yigal Unna, director general of Israel's National Cyber Directorate, in Israel on Sunday, the statement added.

Last week, Vice President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisPolitics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Bidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence MORE urged global leaders to work collaboratively to address cybersecurity threats. 

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"It is up to us — all of us — to strengthen our nations and protect our citizens. It is up to us — all of us — to realize the opportunities of technology and minimize the threats,” Harris said during a panel discussion in Paris. “In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent, let us go forward together.”

Significant funding to address cyber threats was also part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress.