Microsoft, McAfee and others form a ransomware task force

They hope to create a standardized framework for responding to attacks.

Ransomware attacks can cause serious disruptions. They’ve locked people out of hospital, school district and city government networks. To help tackle the scourge, Microsoft, McAfee and 17 other tech companies, security firms and non-profits have formed the Ransomware Task Force.

Victims of ransomware attacks often turn to security experts for help, but independent contractors may offer wildly different advice and solutions. As such, the task force hopes to create a standardized framework for responding to attacks, based on industry consensus.

According to the Institute for Security and Technology (IST), which is one of the members, the group will assess current responses to ransomware, identify gaps in existing approaches and develop a roadmap "of concrete objectives and actionable milestones for high-level decision-makers." The task force will commission expert papers to help guide the roadmap.

More details about the Ransomware Task Force will be announced next month, including full membership and leadership. The task force website will be up and running in January too. The coalition is "launching this task force for a two-to-three month sprint," according to the IST, so the first set of standardized ransomware guidance approved by the group could emerge by the spring.