US Treasury Warns Crypto Industry on Rising Ransomware Attacks
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (Reuters) – Suspected ransomware payments totaling $ 590 million were made in the first six months of this year, more than the $ 416 million reported for all of 2020, U.S. officials said on Friday, as Washington kickstarted the cryptocurrency industry. alert to its role in the fight against ransomware attacks.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the average amount of reported ransomware transactions per month in 2021 was $ 102.3 million, with REvil / Sodinokibi, Conti, DarkSide, Avaddon, and Phobos the most prevalent reported strains of ransomware.
President Joe Biden has made the government’s cybersecurity response a top priority for the highest levels of his administration following a series of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize the energy and food supply of people. United States.
Seeking to stop the use of cryptocurrencies in the payment of ransomware demands, the Treasury has told members of the crypto community that they are responsible for ensuring that they do not help “directly or indirectly” with facilitate transactions prohibited by US sanctions.
Its new guidelines indicate that the virtual currency industry is playing an increasingly critical role in preventing blacklisted people from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions.
“The Treasury is helping stop ransomware attacks by preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes, but we need private sector partners to help prevent this illicit activity,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. communicated.
The new directive also advised virtual exchange offices to use geolocation tools to block access to countries under US sanctions.
Hackers use ransomware to take down the systems that control everything from hospital billing to manufacturing. They only stop after receiving large payments, usually in cryptocurrency.
This year, gangs hit many American businesses in large-scale hacks. One of these attacks on the Colonial Pipeline pipeline operator resulted in temporary fuel supply shortages on the east coast of the United States. The hackers also targeted an Iowa-based farming company, raising fears of grain harvest disruptions in the Midwest.
The Biden administration last month unveiled sanctions against the Suex OTC, SRO cryptocurrency exchange for its alleged role in activating illegal payments from ransomware attacks, officials said, as part of the first such measure of the Treasury against a virtual currency exchange on ransomware activity Read more.
Reporting by Chris Sanders, Chris Bing and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Daniel Wallis
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