Treasury unleashes cryptocurrency sanctions to fight ransomware



Sam Sabin and Victoria Guida | Politico

The Treasury Department on Tuesday announced a crackdown on the use of digital currencies in ransomware attacks and other financial crimes, including its first-ever sanctions against a crypto exchange.

Treasury said about 40 percent of the transactions at the sanctioned cryptocurrency exchange operating in Russia — Suex — involved illicit activities. The new sanctions will block all trades involving Suex and U.S. entities. The department also plans to identify other exchanges tied to illegal schemes.

Treasury on Tuesday also said it was updating ransomware guidance for victims to include a clear statement advising companies not to pay any ransom demanded by hackers.

Treasury announced the moves amid a rise in ransomware attacks, in which cyber criminals demand payment — often in the form of digital currency — from their victims. The ransomware hack of the Colonial Pipeline in May led to the shutdown of one of the largest fuel delivery sources in the U.S. for nearly a week and caused supply disruptions along the East Coast. Colonial paid a ransom that was partially recovered by U.S. authorities.

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