The U.S. sanctions Czech Republic-based cryptocurrency exchange Suex for alleged role in ransomware attacks
Hackers love cryptocurrency partly because of its anonymity. In fact, most cybercriminals prefer their ransom payments to be in cryptocurrency because it’s difficult to trace wallet addresses unless the crypto exchange divulges their financial information to law enforcement agencies.
In very rare cases, crypto exchanges sometimes facilitate transactions involving the transfer of illicit proceeds to cybercriminals. In some cases, hackers and cybercriminals often use crypto OTC marketplaces to ransomware proceeds without a trace. With OTC, transactions are conducted without the intervention of exchange.
Today, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it is sanctioning Suex, a cryptocurrency exchange registered in the Czech Republic, for allegedly helping ransomware hackers get paid, Bloomberg reported.
In a statement, the Treasury Department said that says Suex “facilitated transactions involving illicit proceeds for at least eight ransomware variants.” The U.S. Treasury Department officials said SUEX has facilitated transactions involving illicit proceeds for at least eight ransomware variants, with more than 40% of its known transaction history being associated with illicit actors.
“Treasury will continue to disrupt and hold accountable these entities to reduce the incentive for cybercriminals to conduct these attacks,” the Treasury Department said, adding that the designation of SUEX was done in coordination with the FBI.
“Ransomware is a complex global challenge,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said. “Criminals operate in space because it is profitable.” There has been a surge in ransomware attacks, with increasing in “scale, sophistication, and frequency” in recent years.
Wally Adeyemo, the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, said the agency’s focus was part of the U.S. government’s whole-of-government effort to counter ransomware and cybercriminals and would work to “destruct and deter these criminals by going after their financial enablers.”
He further noted that cyber attacks and ransomware are “a threat to national security and our economy,” adding that the Treasury Department will work with the private sector to ensure they “take decisive actions to bolster their cyber defenses” – specifically for critical U.S. infrastructure.