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US Treasury reports of more than $ 5 billion in bitcoin payments in ransomware attacks


A new US Treasury Department report shows that the use of bitcoin has been the most common method of payment in ransomware attacks for the past three years, with $ 5.2 billion in ransom paid in bitcoin.

to the Report NewsBT: The number of ransomware attacks on the United States has steadily increased since 2020 and peaked in 2021. Hackers have attacked a large number of American companies this year.

For example, in one of these attacks, which involved the operator of the Colonial Pipeline, the east coast of the United States faced a temporary shortage of fuel. The hackers also hacked an Iowa-based agricultural company and caused concern for the people of this part of the United States by disrupting the grain harvesting system in the Midwestern United States. Schools, insurance companies and police departments are among the other cases attacked by hackers in 2021.

The Financial Crimes Network (FinCEN), which operates under the auspices of the Treasury Department and is responsible for protecting the US financial system from criminal abuse, released a report on Friday (October 15th) entitled “Financial Trend Analysis.”

This report examines the significant growth in ransomware payments in the first half of 2021 and the difference from last year.

Intensification of ransomware attacks in 2021

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said:

Cyber-attacks and ransomware kill US businesses large and small, pose a serious threat to economy [این کشور] are.

The US Financial Crimes Network surveys of suspicious activity recorded in the first half of 2021 show that cyber-attacks and ransomware are a growing threat to the United States.

The number of suspicious activities registered from January 1 (January 12) to June 30 (July 9) this year was 635, and 458 transactions were reported. This is 30% more than the 487 suspicious activities recorded during 2020. The total projected value for ransomware payments in the first half of 2021 is $ 590 million, a significant difference from the $ 416 million owed in ransomware attacks in 2020 as a whole.

US Treasury reports of more than $ 5 billion in bitcoin payments in ransomware attacks
Comparison chart of cases of violations and ransom payments in different years

The Treasury Department said the average monthly volume of ransomware transactions reported this year was $ 102.3 million. The Financial Crime Network has said that Bitcoin is the most common payment method in ransomware transactions. Over the past three years, about $ 5.2 billion in bitcoin-based payments have been linked to 10 ransomware attacks. The Financial Crimes Network says the figure of $ 5.2 billion announced by the organization was calculated taking into account the price of bitcoin at the time of the transaction.

If this trend continues, hackers could increase their revenue in 2021 from the ransomware attacks of the past 10 years.

Also read: US order to digital currency companies to avoid circumventing sanctions; Is the capital threat to Iranians?

What is the US government’s plan?

The US government is always trying to prevent hackers from attacking. Following the attacks that threatened the country’s food and energy resources this year, Joe Biden and his aides have made it a priority for the government to address cybersecurity issues.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice announced the launch of an executive team in digital currencies. The team’s responsibility is to track the activities of exchanges that facilitate illegal transactions such as ransomware payments.

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that the Biden government was preparing a series of measures, including sanctions, that would make it harder for hackers to use digital currencies.

Last month, the Office of Foreign Investment Control (OFAC) boycotted the SUEX digital currency exchange on charges of facilitating financial transactions for ransomware operators. The boycott of this exchange was the first action of the Ministry of Treasury in dealing with ransomware.

Simultaneously with the release of the report on ransomware attacks, the Ministry of Treasury also issued a guideline for businesses active in the field of digital currency.

Part of this policy states:

The digital currency industry includes companies [فعال در حوزه] Technology, exchanges, corporate executives, miners, wallet providers and their users play a crucial role in preventing sanctioned individuals from accessing digital currencies. [و استفاده از آنها] They play a role in circumventing sanctions and undermining US foreign policy and national security.

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