On November 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a bilateral cybersecurity partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Finance “to protect critical financial infrastructure and emerging technologies” and combat the use of ransomware. The initiative includes the launch of a U.S.-Israeli Task Force on Fintech Innovation and Cybersecurity (the “Task Force”), which seeks to advance the twin goals of encouraging fintech innovation while protecting against cyber threats from nation-state and criminal actors.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo met with Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Director General of the National Cyber Directorate Yigal Unna to launch the partnership. Their announcement follows the Counter-Ransomware Initiative meeting held virtually one month earlier with the European Union and more than 30 countries, including Israel, during which Deputy Secretary Adeyemo highlighted the importance of international cooperation to address the abuse of virtual currency and disrupt the ransomware business model.
The newly created Task Force will advance the goals of the initiative through a variety of efforts, including a series of expert technical exchanges and the immediate development of a Memorandum of Understanding that will support:
- permissible information sharing related to the financial sector, including cybersecurity regulations and guidance, cybersecurity incidents, and cybersecurity threat intelligence;
- staff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity and the financial system; and
- competency-building activities, such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises linked to global financial institutions financial and investment flows.
The Task Force’s expert technical exchanges will cover policy, regulation, and outreach to encourage fintech innovation that includes robust cybersecurity protections and that can promote compliance with international standards on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist and anti-proliferation financing. According to the announcement, the technical exchanges will examine how cyber analytics firms and fintech and regtech innovators are devising new approaches to mitigating illicit finance risk and enhancing government analytical and enforcement activities. The US. Department of the Treasury will also participate in the CyberTech Global Tel Aviv conference in Israel in January 2022.