The United States and the United Kingdom have “committed and agreed to increase the focus on unlawful use of bitcoin and ransomware,” according to the US Department of Justice. According to the FBI, rising cryptocurrency prices have made ransomware “very profitable for criminals.”
Governments Join Hands Towards Illegal Cryptocurrency Use
On Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and officials from the DOJ’s National Security Division and Criminal Division met with the U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel in Washington, D.C., according to the DOJ.
The federal government of the United States has been attempting to counteract ransomware attacks. Monaco announced the formation of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team in October, a Department of Justice initiative aimed at combating and prosecuting “criminal misuses of bitcoin along with other cryptocurrencies, particularly crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services, and money laundering.”
Virtual Currency – A Favorite Option For Ransomware
Last week, Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that high crypto values are fuelling criminal networks and ransomware operators.
The hearing was part of a congressional inquiry into multimillion-dollar ransomware assaults this year on major U.S. firms, including Colonial Pipeline Co. and JBS Foods’ US branch.
Arrests & Seizures Are Results Of Global Collaborations
The United States government recently took action against several ransomware perpetrators. The US Department of the Treasury sanctioned a cryptocurrency exchange for the first time in September as part of a multi-agency campaign to combat ransomware. Suex was said to be “responsible for ransom money laundering.”
Another cryptocurrency exchange was shut down earlier this month. Chatex is said to have helped ransomware operators with “financial transactions.” In addition, two accused ransomware operators, Yaroslav Vasinskyi of Ukraine and Yevgeniy Polyanin of Russia, were sanctioned “for their involvement in continuing Sodinokibi/Revil ransomware events against the United States.” Polyanin was also fined $6.1 million by the DOJ.
Two “prolific” ransomware operators were arrested in October after a concerted operation including Europol, Interpol, and the FBI resulted in the arrest of two “prolific” ransomware operators accused of demanding up to 70 million euros in ransom. A total of $1.3 million in cryptocurrency was seized.