Government and industry are teaming up to combat a massive surge in ransomware, with a newly formed ransomware task force calling for new measures to more aggressively track bitcoin and crypto capital flows.
The task force includes law enforcement, including agents from the FBI and the United States Secret Service who work with representatives from leading security and technology companies.
According to an April 29 report from Reuters citing anonymous Justice Department task force sources, the group is calling for new guidelines designed to break anonymity of digital asset transfers, which will soon be passed by Congress. be assessed.
The proposed measures include tightened KYC requirements for crypto asset exchange, expanded licensing requirements for entities operating with cryptocurrencies, and expansion of anti-money laundering laws to better perform crypto conversion kiosks and ATM operations.
The group also supports the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s drive to increase reporting requirements for transactions over $ 10,000 in value.
A Homeland Security official said the proposed guidelines would also be “huge” for law enforcement efforts to combat drug traffickers, people smugglers and other actors engaged in illegal activities under the cover of crypto-pseudonymity.
“This is a world made exactly to be anonymous, but at some point you have to give up something to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.
The proposed rules seek to respond to a record year for ransomware attacks, with the task force estimating that ransomware syndicates collected nearly $ 350 million in 2020 – 200% more than the previous year. The lion’s share of the profits came from targeting government agencies, hospitals, educational institutions and private businesses.
The task force also took note of evidence indicating that many ransomware operators have friendly relations with North Korea, Russia, and other nation-states whose interests appear to be in conflict with those of the United States.
In the team’s announcement last week, Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin wrote: “While the department has taken significant steps to address cybercrime, it is imperative that we deploy the department’s full authorities and resources to confrontation with the many dimensions and root causes of this threat. “