Sanctions incoming for cryptocurrency to discourage cyber attacks

Biden administration takes aim at cryptocurrency-based exchanges

Wooden gavel on table in courtroom

Cryptocurrency and cyber-attack schemes have gone hand in hand for several years now. Because cryptocurrency is hard to track versus the “paper trail” of dollars in usual theft scenarios, it’s an ideal demand for threat actors. Specifically, ransomware. The times I’ve covered ransomware attacks, said ransom was demanded in a cryptocurrency of some format, typically Bitcoin.

This isn’t the first time cryptocurrency found itself intertwined with malicious activity, either. Cryptomining remains a prominent issue, whereby a user’s system is unknowingly compromised and used for mining activities. Ransomware has taken the lead in crypto earnings because it has shown to be faster and more profitable in the long run.

Now, in an effort to aid cybersecurity efforts across the board, the Biden administration is looking to place sanctions to discourage cryptocurrency scams and profit. The idea is to make it increasingly difficult for hackers to exploit cryptocurrency, a step in the right direction in an overwhelming sea of problems.

What the sanctions will do

As it stands, the US treasury aims to place limits on exchanges and traders. The goal is to stop cryptocurrency transactions from occurring as a result of ransomware attacks (or otherwise). The Department also plans to issue guide protocols, primarily about the risks of trading with cryptocurrency.

It’s a healthy start to dissuade current and future ransomware attacks. Given ransomware relies on cryptocurrency as the bloodline for its profit model, going for the veins can create much-needed pushback. As of now, ransomware is a devastating malware attack that can result in millions in damages, while attacks run off with a healthy profit. Because of the obfuscating nature of ransomware, “striking back” simply is not a practical option.

As the year continues, additional rules, guides, and plans will lay out for companies to better aid them.

Does this stop ransomware attacks?

As it stands, the guidelines are not likely to stop ransomware attacks outright. Malicious actors use any and all tools/resources they have at their disposal. Just as well, putting pressure on cryptocurrency transactions is only set as a guideline. Sanctions may help, though are only as effective company enforcement goes. Still, the rise of ransomware is enough to put businesses on edge and act accordingly.

Despite the tide of malicious attacks, however, it’s a great first step. Ransomware and similar schemes have run rampant in recent years, only blossoming since the COVID-19 pandemic, straining an already burdened economy and populace. By forcing extra scrutiny towards cryptocurrency-based transactions, it creates retaliation to malware gangs.

Until then, however, companies should remain vigilant. If you need additional assistance for your IT security models, contact Bytagig today for more information.

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