Major US tech companies and officials are calling on governments to label ransomware as a national security threat in order to tackle a hacking epidemic that has cost companies tens of millions of dollars.

Tech groups like Microsoft, Cisco and Amazon, cyber security companies like FireEye, and officials from the FBI and the US Department of Justice have released a report calling for a range of measures to combat the lucrative criminal enterprise.

In ransomware, hackers take control of organizations’ computer systems or data by installing illegal software and only returning the assets after a ransom has been paid.

The public-private Ransomware Task Force argued that such attacks should be viewed as a national security threat, highlighting the risk to citizens from a relentless attack on hospitals, local authorities and critical infrastructure.

She called on governments to form international coalitions to tackle the problem and “put pressure on …

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