US Treasury puts crypto industry on notice over rising ransomware attacks

Suspected ransomware payments totalling $590 million were made in the first six months of this year, more than the $416 million reported for the whole of 2020, US authorities said on Friday, as Washington put the cryptocurrency industry on alert about its role in combating ransomware attacks.

The US 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 ransomware strains reported.

Cybersecurity response

President Joe Biden has made the government’s cybersecurity response a top priority for the most senior levels of his administration following a series of attacks this year that threatened to destabilise US energy and food supplies.

Also see: Bitcoin nears $60,000 as investors eye first US ETFs

Seeking to stop the use of cryptocurrencies in the payment of ransomware demands, the US Treasury told members of the crypto-community they are responsible for making sure they do not “directly or indirectly” help facilitate deals prohibited by US sanctions.

Its new guidance said the virtual currency industry plays an increasingly critical role in preventing those blacklisted from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions.

“The Treasury is helping stop ransomware attacks by making it difficult for criminals to profit from their crimes, but we need partners in the private sector to help prevent this illicit activity,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in astatement.

The new guidance also advised virtual currency exchanges to use geolocation tools to block access from countries under US sanctions.

Ransomware attacks

Hackers use ransomware to take down systems that control everything from hospi ..

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