US tightens crypto market

The U.S. has broader surveillance capabilities over the cryptocurrency market in response to the growing threat of ransomware and other cybercriminals.

Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Photo: AFP/VNA

In a statement on October 8, a spokesman for the US National Security Council (NSC) said: “The NSC and the National Economic Council (NEC) are working cross-sectorally to review the ways we can ensure that cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are not used to help bad actors survive, including ransomware criminals.”

Ransomware works by encrypting the victim’s data. Typically, hackers will provide victims with “a key” in return for cryptocurrency payments that can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden said the top US national security advisers would be meeting online with officials from 30 countries to review their plans to deal with the growing threat of the virus. ransomware and other cybercriminals. According to President Biden, an online meeting organized by the NSC will also aim to “increase cooperation in law enforcement” on issues such as “illegal use of cryptocurrencies”.

The United States has raised its cybersecurity response to the highest levels in the entire government system after a series of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize energy and food supplies. of the world’s largest economy. The Biden administration hopes that the informal group created by Washington – also known as the “Anti-Ransomware Initiative” – ​​will advance the diplomatic effort, including direct negotiations with Russia. , as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the world’s leading group of industrialized countries (G7).

In early July, hackers carried out a ransomware attack against Kaseya, an American information technology company. Miami-based Kaseya provides IT services to approximately 40,000 businesses globally, which in turn have countless other customers. The attack on Kaseya occurred on the evening of July 2, affecting about 800-1,500 businesses around the world. Hackers have injected malicious code into VSA software – a tool that allows small and medium businesses to control their networks of computers and printers remotely, as well as automatically perform security updates and server maintenance. periodic. The REvil hacker group responsible for the attack has demanded a ransom of $70 million to restore all the data of the affected businesses, although they are willing to reduce their demands in private negotiations. with a cybersecurity expert.

This is considered the largest ransomware attack ever recorded. Ransomware attacks have been on the rise in recent times, affecting not only businesses but also hospitals, banks and other city governments. Immediately after the attack on the US Colonial Pipeline oil pipeline system, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity defenses.