The Biden administration plans to target exchanges supporting ransomware operations with sanctions

Pierluigi Paganini September 18, 2021

US Government is expected to issue sanctions against crypto exchanges, wallets, and traders used by ransomware operations to cash out ransom payments.

The Biden administration is putting in place all the strategies to disrupt the operations of the ransomware gangs, and according to the Wall Street Journal, it is now planning to target the digital finance infrastructure used by these criminal organizations.

The Biden administration is expected to apply sanctions against crypto exchanges, wallets, and traders used by the gangs to cash out ransom payments.

“The Biden administration is preparing an array of actions, including sanctions, to make it harder for hackers to use digital currency to profit from ransomware attacks, according to people familiar with the matter.” states the WSJ. “The government hopes to choke off access to a form of payment that has supported a booming criminal industry and a rising national security threat.”

Over the past years, the number of ransomware attacks has exponentially increased, causing huge losses to the victims and disrupting their activities.

The operations also targeted the US critical infrastructure, the attack against Colonial Pipeline demonstrates the potential damages that such kind of criminal practice could cause to the US citizens.

The US authorities want to target the economy behind the ransomware operations, disrupting the process used by the gang to convert their ransom payments to fiat currency.

Every time victims pay ransomware, the cryptocurrencies are transferred to wallets used by the ransomware gangs then the groups attempt to launder the money by using so-called mixer services. The final step consists of converting the crypto funds through exchanges.

The authorities want to make pressure on the exchanges that are critical components for ransomware operations and threaten to apply sanctions for their support to the criminal practive.

“An action of this kind would be an aggressive, proactive approach to going after those who facilitate ransomware payments,” Ari Redbord, a former senior Treasury security official, told the Wall Street Journal.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, sanctions)

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