The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) says its prioritizing digital assets as a new key area of focus.
FinCEN, which aims to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes, has outlined in a new report its intention to keep a close eye on “convertible virtual currencies” (CVCs).
In its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Priorities report, Fincen says CVCs have become the preferred medium of exchange of cybercriminals.
“Convertible virtual currencies (CVCs) also have grown as the currency of preference in a wide variety of online illicit activity.
In addition to being the preferred form of payment for buying ransomware tools and services, online child exploitation material, illicit drugs and other illicit goods online, and for paying ransoms to the perpetrators of ransomware attacks, CVCs often are used to layer transactions to hide the origin of money derived from illicit activity.”
Consequently, FinCEN discloses that fighting ransomware is now a pressing matter, especially after a rise in the number and size of cyberattacks.
“According to law enforcement and reporting from covered institutions and others in the private sector, ransomware attacks increased dramatically in 2020 and 2021 in both scale and sophistication, posing a threat to the U.S. health care system and other critical infrastructure, as well as U.S. national security and economic prosperity…
Countering ransomware has been identified as a top priority for the United States, which is committed to working with like-minded partners around the world to disrupt and deter ransomware actors, including by developing cohesive and consistent policies towards ransom payments and enabling rapid tracing and interdiction of virtual currency proceeds.”
In May, Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest fuel pipeline operators in the US, fell victim to a ransomware attack, causing several days of outage, fuel shortage and gas price increase. The Georgia-based pipeline operator reportedly paid $5 million to restore its disabled computer network.
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