To Fight Ransomware, Biden Administration Targets Cryptocurrency Transactions

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The Joe Biden administration is cracking down on the growing problem of ransomware attacks by expanding its use of sanctions to cut off digital payment systems that have allowed such criminal activity to flourish and threaten national security, reports the New York Times. The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on a virtual currency exchange called Suex, which had facilitated transactions involving illegal proceeds from at least eight ransomware episodes. More than 40 percent of the exchange’s transactions had been linked to criminal actors.

Treasury officials say that while some virtual currency exchanges are exploited by criminals, Suex was facilitating illegal activities for its own gain. Cryptocurrency exchanges are seen as a weak point for ransomware gangs that are otherwise all but untouchable by law enforcement. The real world interfaces used to cash out cryptocurrency rely on public-facing companies that are vulnerable to financial sanctions. Vasily Zhabykin, the founder of Suex, denied any illegal activity and said it was possible that the Treasury Department had mistakenly targeted his company.

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