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Cyberthreats require global response, said ex-DHS head Chertoff

  • Michael Chertoff said on CNBC's Closing Bell one of the first steps towards combating future attacks is standardization internationally so resources can be pooled.
  • Chertoff also said paying the ransom is "a big mistake," comparing the situation to hostages involving human beings.

Former secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said international cooperation is needed to track down and prosecute cybercrimes. His comments came in the wake of a ransomware attack that has affected companies and governments around the world.

Chertoff, the second person to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, said on CNBC's "Closing Bell" one of the first steps towards combating future attacks is standardization internationally so resources could be combined to track down criminals.

"There ought to be an agreement and I think tracking down the people who do this tracking down where they put their money are all ways you can start to push back on this increasing epidemic," he said.

Chertoff, who now serves as executive chairman of The Chertoff Group, a security and risk management firm, also said paying the ransom is "a big mistake," comparing the situation to hostages involving human beings.

"It just encourages more of the same," he said on the show.

The global virus is thought to be ransomware, a type of attack that locks users' systems until a ransom of some kind is paid.

"This is all about preparation … If you don't prepare, then you're just leaving yourself open to more of these attacks in the future," he said.

He said the process is analogous to the flu vaccine: "If you don't get the vaccine, it's not going to help you."

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Correction: Michael Chertoff is executive chairman of The Chertoff Group. An earlier version misstated his title.