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US imposes sanctions against Russian cryptocurrency exchange

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Russian Central Bank
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  • This week, the US Treasury Department launched a series of actions aimed at disrupting hostile cyber groups responsible for ransomware attacks
  • SUEX has facilitated transactions containing at least eight ransomware variants’ unlawful gains
  • In 2020, ransomware payouts totaled more than $400 million worldwide

According to a Treasury Department statement, the action was initiated because the exchange facilitated transactions involving unlawful earnings from at least eight ransomware strains. As part of the government’s broader counter-ransomware strategy, the US Treasury Department announced a series of actions aimed at disrupting malicious cyber groups behind ransomware attacks, as well as encouraging better cybersecurity in the private sector and extensive cooperation between government agencies and various companies. The first step was to impose sanctions on SUEX, a Russian cryptocurrency exchange.

SUEX transactions involve unlawful activities

SUEX has facilitated transactions involving unlawful gains from at least eight ransomware strains, according to the Treasury Department’s announcement. Over 40% of SUEX’s known transaction history is linked to criminal actors, according to an analysis of known SUEX transactions. All property and interests in property in regions under U.S. jurisdiction are blocked under the sanctions, and both U.S. people and organizations are barred from transacting with the exchange.

In a statement posted on the Treasury Department’s website, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that ransomware and cyber-attacks constitute a direct threat to our economy, affecting both large and small businesses across the country. We are committed to utilize the entire spectrum of measures, including penalties and regulatory tools, to disrupt, discourage, and prevent ransomware attacks as cybercriminals develop more sophisticated methods and technology.

There has been a massive amount of Ransomware Payments

Ransomware payments worldwide reached over $400 million in 2020, according to Treasury Department statistics, more than four times their level in 2019, but the overall damage is much more extensive: disruption of the economy and supply chains for products and services; damage to critical infrastructures such as healthcare, energy, and financial services; massive payments.

SUEX and other virtual currency exchanges are key to the profitability of ransomware attacks, which help fund further cybercrime. The Treasury will continue to disrupt and hold these businesses accountable in order to limit the incentive for cybercriminals to carry out these assaults, according to the official statement.

Steve Anderrson

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