Several American newspaper outlets recently published articles concerning the current American president’s administration rumored steps in regard to the growing ransomware criminal ecosystem. U.S government officials expressed their concern that this particular kind of crime poses a great threat to national security.
Ransomware hackers to pose a threat to national security
The incidents with Colonial Pipeline and one of the largest meat suppliers made clear the steps should be taken as soon as possible. And it turned out later one of the steps is to put sanctions on cryptocurrency exchanges. The logic lies in an effort to cut the financial channels of carrying out cybercrimes. Such channels are the most convenient way of money transfer from victims to criminals. Since it is impossible to track the real owner of a certain crypto wallet, the only way is to restrict their use.
Former Justice Department prosecutor Brandon van Grack posted a tweet where he expressed his opinion on the matter:
The Biden Administration is about to take its first major proactive step to target #ransomware attacks by issuing new sanctions. The sanctions could significantly impair the ability to make payments and further complicate the decisionmaking calculus for companies. Stay tuned. https://t.co/t4UrtF4YPv
— Brandon Van Grack (@BVanGrack) September 17, 2021
Ransomware is becoming a real problem for the United States. As some experts estimate that the number of attacks rose by 4 times through the 2019-2021 period. The more drastic measures were proposed by the leaders of cybersecurity organizations. They offered to create specific rules for companies that use cryptocurrencies for their operations.
“There are lots of organizations that want to do the right thing,” Megan Stifel, global policy officer at the Global Cyber Alliance.
Another idea in the cyber crimes policy will be to create a coalition of countries as opposed to those countries where most cybercrimes involving ransoms are carried out. “The effort will be challenged,” the same Megan Stiefel, who also was co-chair of the Ransomware Task Force said, “if the United States is the only country pursuing this policy approach.”
Hackers who fell under restrictions earlier
Before the start of implementing sanctions on money exchange companies it was hackers who fell under restrictions. Evgeniy Bogachev, the developer of Zeus ransomware, was put on the list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2016. The American government additionally announced a $3 million reward for the information of the hacker`s whereabouts. Another group, the Russian-based Evil Corp was responsible for the ransomware that infected banks in more than 40 countries. The approximated amount of money stolen by this group is up to $100 million. The creators of this group, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, are wanted by FBI. Federal Bureau is ready to pay $5 million for the information leading to their arrest.
Meanwhile everything that has been so far circulating in the media holds the label “rumours”, the official papers on future initiatives have not been published yet. Such a situation likely appears because that crypto is the theme of talks in other governmental institutions. For example, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission works on the formal part of cryptocurrencies legalization. These rules will be very important for companies and must have no conflicts with the offered restrictions on cryptocurrencies usage. We can also see these restrictions as a part of the rules that SEC will offer for cryptocurrencies. No one can predict the direction of the curve of the American dream. The only solution is to wait.