White House Ransomware Summit Eyes Tighter Global Scrutiny for Crypto

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Uneven enforcement allows hackers to cash in, say officials in 31 countries and the European Union

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“We are dedicated to enhancing our efforts to disrupt the ransomware business model and related money laundering activities,” representatives said in a joint statement on Thursday.

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Officials in the US, EU, Japan and elsewhere met on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss ways to combat the surge in ransomware that the Biden administration has labeled criminal hacking a national security threat. Hacking groups have increasingly targeted critical US infrastructure, disrupting the East Coast’s largest gas pipeline in May and a major meat processor in June.

Law-enforcement officials are sometimes able to track crypto payments made by such victims, which can reach millions in a public ledger known as the blockchain. A counter-ransomware initiative convened by the White House this week called on countries to use such technologies as more aggressive enforcement of anti-money-laundering and Know Your Customer rules, as well as asking cryptocurrency companies to allow such transactions. Called to stop facilitating.

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Officials pointed to the standards created by the Financial Action Task Force, an initiative of the Group of Seven countries, but acknowledged their “unequal global implementation”.

“We also recognize the challenges that some jurisdictions face in developing frameworks and investigative capabilities to address the ever-evolving and highly distributed business operations involving virtual assets,” Summit officials said in their statement on Thursday. could.”

In recent months US authorities have stepped up their efforts to expand the government’s ability to disrupt ransomware clusters, track cryptocurrencies, and seize illicit funds. The Treasury Department last month issued a first of its kind ban on a cryptocurrency exchange, while the Justice Department launched a national cryptocurrency enforcement team.

But cybersecurity experts say international cooperation will be key to slowing criminal groups that often operate across borders and with relative penalties in countries like Russia.

A senior US official said Kremlin officials, who have denied such allegations, were not invited to the counter-ransomware initiative this week. The official said that Washington is in direct talks with Moscow on the matter.

The meetings in the recent past included talks on putting pressure on such countries and creating international cyber security norms. The officials also promised to strengthen the security of their countries’ computer networks, including public-private partnerships, consistent regulation and fundamental improvements in private sector cyber hygiene.

He added that taking down international hacking groups may also require law-enforcement cooperation across borders.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday, “No one country, no one group can solve this problem.”

David Uberti [email protected] . Feather

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