Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Avramov Discusses the Weaponization of Ransomware Attacks

In a recent op-ed published in The HillKiril Avramov discusses the role of ransomware attacks in political warfare. Dr. Avramov is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at UT Austin, a Fellow to the Intelligence Studies Project (ISP), and a Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar. Noting the increase in ransomware attacks in recent years, Avramov argues that it is critical for policymakers to appreciate and respond to the upward trend in ransomware attacks. Attacks against Western networks are often attributed to Russian groups, who seldom face legal consequences, and may or may not have ties to the Kremlin. This “weaponization of private proxies” situates these ransomware attacks the gray zone: “a realm where plausible deniability is achieved.” Avramov also notes that the incidents of ransomware attacks could continue to increase, given the “explosion of new ransomware business models and the favorable conditions Russia creates for attackers.” In recognition of this trend, Avramov urges lawmakers to continue investigating this issue by way of intelligence community assessments of Russian ransomware attacks. He also suggests limited cooperation with Russian on the development of “norms against AI-enabled ransomware attacks.” Read the full article here.