Biden Administration to Trace Cryptocurrency Transactions to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
The Biden administration plans to enhance cryptocurrency tracking as part of macro endeavors to reduce the pain from ransomware attacks, said the Deputy Press Secretary. The government’s actions come amid several consecutive hacks on US soil.
What is Ransomware and US Attacks?
Ransomware attacks mean that the perpetrators infiltrate individuals or organizations to encrypt sensible information. By doing so, they cripple the victims’ operations and request some sort of a ransom to be paid to provide the necessary encryption tools to regain access to the data.
Typically, the attackers request the payment to be sent via Bitcoin (BTC), while some notorious groups have switched their primary method to Monero (XMR) due to enhanced anonymity.
Hackers have targeted US-based organizations quite frequently in the past few months. CryptoPotato reported in February that Kia Motors America (KMA) fell victim to such hacks. The perpetrators requested the payment to be made via bitcoin, and the total amount could have exceeded $30 million.
Even more damaging was DarkSide’s latest attack in which the infamous group crippled Colonial Pipeline’s distribution of refined oil products in the States, resulting in gas shortages, high prices, and all-out panic across the country. According to some reports, the group netted more than $15 million from this and other similar attacks in the past several months.
Most recently, a ransomware attack reached the Steamship Authority of Massachusetts on Wednesday, as the organization announced itself.
The Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority has been the target of a ransomware attack that is affecting operations as of Wednesday morning. As a result, customers traveling with us today may experience delays. 1/2
— Steamship Authority (@SteamshipMA) June 2, 2021
US Government Targets Ransomware Hacks
The growing threat of such attacks, including another one against the giant meat producer JBS, has pushed the US government to take action. During a press briefing abroad Air Force One, Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre asserted that “combating ransomware is a priority for the administration.”
Interestingly, numerous reports have accused Russia of being involved with some of the aforementioned attacks. Consequently, Jean-Pierre reassured that the White House is “engaging directly” with Moscow to deliver “the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.”
President Biden has already undertaken a “rapid strategic review” consisting of four lines of effort:
“One, distribution of ransomware infrastructure and actors working closely with the private sector. Two, building an international coalition to hold countries who harbor ransom actors accountable. Three, expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transactions. Four, reviewing the USG’s ransomware policies.”