A senior administration official said that mining virtual currencies – like Bitcoin and others – motivates criminals to launch ransomware attacks by making it easier to launder their money. Cryptocurrency advocates say it’s no more of an issue than carrying out transactions in cash, which can also be concealed in an anonymous state.
Attempts to reinforce the kind of “know your customer” rule that governs transactions between traditional financial institutions. And while those rules sometimes apply to cryptocurrency transactions, they are the exception, not the rule. Still, reaching an international agreement on transparency in such transactions would be an enormous diplomatic task, administration officials acknowledged.
So far, there has been a famous success: The Department of Justice has been able to track and trace a large portion of the $4 million cryptocurrency ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline, the company that shut down trips gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel to the East Coast when it was attacked by ransomware. It is unclear whether in that case the government was lucky in its ability to find and seize a cryptocurrency “wallet” or if they cracked the system enough to do it again. In a ransomware incident after Colonial, which hit a major beef producer, none of the $11 million ransom was recovered.
The ability to transfer funds anonymously, without government oversight, is one of the appeals of cryptocurrency, but also makes it a favored payment method for hackers and merchants alike. sell drugs. But the administration did not give, in press conferences or briefings before Congress on Wednesday, details of the regulations it hopes to apply in the United States to cryptocurrency transactions. It is also unclear how the effort will require new regulations worldwide and to what extent it can be accomplished by reinterpreting and enforcing existing rules to prohibit money laundering.
The Treasury Department and the National Cyber Investigation Coordination Force will now begin working with the industry to improve their real-time sharing capabilities, a senior administration official said. The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network will host a conference with financial institutions, technology companies and federal agencies to discuss ways to make it harder for hackers to use funds. electronics in ransomware attacks.
Part of the effort will also focus on cyber insurance, policies that many companies buy in the event they are hacked. The Biden administration is working to ensure that policies are written only for companies that adhere to minimum cybersecurity standards. The industry is moving in that direction, but government officials are concerned by evidence that ransomware groups looking for targets have purchased insurance.