State Department To Give Costa Rica $25M For Cybersecurity
The aid is a direct request from President Rodrigo Chaves Robles.
The Biden administration will give Costa Rica $25 million to fund network improvements and develop a more secure digital infrastructure, according to a senior administration official.
The effort follows a direct request for funding from Costa Rica President Rodrigo Chaves Robless and aligns with the White House’s goals to “help partners build secure, open, reliable digital infrastructure around the world,” the official told reporters Wednesday.
The aid package comes a year after Costa Rica suffered ransomware attacks that disrupted key systems, including access to medical records, taxes, and teachers’ pay. The Biden administration sent law enforcement, intelligence, and diplomatic support to assist, NBC reported at the time.
“At the time, we immediately deployed a team of U.S. experts to assist in Costa Rica, this recovery, and have been working closely with the country since then, and have recognized that this further stability, this further assistance is needed,” the official said Wednesday.
The State Department will fund and run the $25 million program, including money for training, software, hardware, and to create and equip a permanent security operations center to monitor, prevent, and respond to cyberattacks. The center is also expected to coordinate across the Costa Rican government to strengthen networks and mitigate potential threats to critical infrastructure and the government.
Costa Rica also will apply to join the U.S. International Counter Ransomware Initiative, a council of three dozen countries plus the European Union, which works to improve defenses against cybercriminals.
When deciding to provide additional assistance, the official said the Biden administration considered the significance of the attacks, as well as what impact the aid could have.
“Ransomware attacks are disrupting, as you've seen—schools, hospitals, businesses, governments all around the world—-and President Biden has really made it a focus to fight it,” the official said.
The Biden administration also sent similar aid packages to Albania, totalling $50 million, to beef up their cybersecurity efforts following attacks attributed to Iran last year, said Yuri Kim, the U.S. ambassador to Albania during a speech in February.