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Ransomware task force calls for aggressive Bitcoin transaction tracking measures

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Government and industry have teamed up to fight a major increase in ransomware, with a newly formed ransomware task force calling for new measures to more aggressively track Bitcoin and crypto capital flows.

The task force includes law enforcement, including agents from the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, working alongside representatives from major security and technology companies.

According to an April 29 report from Reuters citing anonymous sources from the Justice Department’s task force, the group is calling for new guidelines designed to reduce the anonymity of digital asset transfers that will soon be considered by Congress.

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The proposed measures include strengthened KYC requirements for crypto asset exchanges, expanded licensing requirements for entities operating with cryptocurrencies and an extension of anti-money laundering laws to better channel the operations of conversion kiosks. crypto and ATMs.

The group is also supporting the efforts of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to increase reporting requirements for transactions valued over $ 10,000.

An internal security official said the proposed guidelines would also be “huge” for law enforcement efforts to tackle narcotics traffickers, human smugglers and other actors involved in crime. illicit activities under the cover of crypto-pseudonymity.

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“It’s a world that was created exactly to be anonymous, but at some point you have to give something up to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

The proposed rules aim to respond to a record year for ransomware attacks, with the task force estimating that ransomware syndicates raised nearly $ 350 million in 2020, up 200% from the previous year. The lion’s share of the profits were accrued by targeting government agencies, hospitals, educational institutions and private companies.

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The task force also noted evidence suggesting that many ransomware operators have friendly relations with North Korea, Russia, and other nation states whose interests appear to conflict with those of the United States.

Announcing the team last week, Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin wrote: “While the Ministry has taken important steps to tackle cybercrime, it is imperative that we mobilize all powers and Ministry resources to address the many dimensions and root causes of this threat. “