(Washington) The Biden administration is preparing to impose sanctions on several entities to combat illicit transactions of cryptocurrencies such as ransom, it says The Wall Street Journal Friday.
The newspaper, quoting informed sources, said that the US Treasury intends to impose sanctions next week.
Asked by AFP, the Treasury did not respond Friday evening.
According to experts cited by Business Daily, the Treasury, which has refused to set targets for sanctions, should target digital wallets that receive ransom transactions and crypto platforms that help transfer these amounts.
In addition to these targeted sanctions, the administration also intends to issue new guidance to companies on the risks associated with facilitating payments after infection with ransomware. The newspaper said the guidelines would also impose fines.
Cyber security is one of the areas of work of the Biden administration after a wave of cyber-attacks, especially using cryptocurrencies, which exposed major vulnerabilities.
Bitcoin is regularly criticized by regulators for its illegal uses. It has been used by hackers who demand ransom from companies or communities to restore a service they have blocked.
The astonishing attack in early May on the American company Colonial Pipeline, which disrupted the distribution of fuel in the United States, provoked a strong reaction from the authorities and part of the ransom, $ 4.4 million, paid in bitcoins, was recovered.
Later that same month, global meat company JBS fell victim to a cyber attack and paid hackers $11 million in ransom.
Other recent targets in the United States include local communities, hospitals, and insurance companies. Many of these attacks are attributed to Russia-based hacker groups operating at least with the tacit approval of the Kremlin.
In July, President Joe Biden in a phone call called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to take action against ransomware attacks from Russia.
According to a report from Chainalysis in February, cryptocurrency transactions for illegal purposes amounted to $10 billion in 2020, or 1% of all crypto activity last year.
The number of ransoms paid in cryptocurrency reached nearly $350 million in 2020.
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