Russia was once again embroiled in a ransomware scandal.
Biden administration has focused on ransomware as a national security threat for months.
In the center of Moscow, the tallest skyscraper in Russia, known as Vostok, facilitates the business of hackers, cybercriminals and money launderers.
According to Bloomberg, experts have successfully linked at least four companies based or operating in Vostok to launder money associated with ransomware activities.
se four companies are Suex OTC, EggChange, Buy-bitcoin.pro.
Suex OTC, according to the cited Chainalysis data, processed at least $ 160 million worth of Bitcoin from illicit and high-risk sources in the past three years. Previously, Suex OTC also faced penalties for helping ransomware groups launder their funds.
EggChange faces investigations in both the United States and Europe for alleged money laundering. Treasury Department reportedly declined to comment.
Buy-bitcoin.pro, according to Chainalysis, has also processed thousands of dollars in ransomware funds. A portion of these funds went to Hydra, one of the largest darknet markets in the world and the largest in Russia.
CashBank, the last of the four companies, was affiliated with accounts flagged with Binance for “potentially illegal activities.”
Binance, in turn, spent the better part of a year dealing with regulatory issue after issue.
Back in the crosshairs of cryptocurrencies
This is not the first time that Russia has been the epicenter of a ransomware and cryptocurrency scandal.
Last year, Russian spies were found to have used $ 1 million in cryptocurrency to meddle in the 2018 US midterm elections. As a result, Russian citizens, a Ukrainian member of parliament, and a suspected Russian spy were sanctioned.
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Last year, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 16 groups and another 16 individuals for meddling in the 2020 presidential election.
One company, Secondeye Solution (SES), which provides fraudulent identity documents to buyers, has received more than $ 2.5 million in cryptocurrency since 2013.
America’s foreign policy depends on ransomware
One of the most important foreign policy decisions of the Biden administration has been its emphasis on ransomware and the threat to national security posed by cryptocurrencies.
A report released by the administration last month. forewarned that digital assets such as cryptocurrencies pose a risk to the US sanctions regime, which, in turn, is a cornerstone of US foreign policy.
“se technologies offer opportunities for malicious actors to withhold and transfer funds outside of the necklace-based financial system. Furthermore, they empower our adversaries in their quest to build new financial and payment systems designed to diminish the global role of the dollar, ”the report reads.
At the time of writing, the US has more than 9,000 sanctions in place, targeting rogue states like North Korea, Iran, and others.
But the administration’s anxiety over crypto and ransomware goes back further than the Treasury report.
High-profile attacks against the Colonial Pipeline and meat processing company JBS pushed the administration to take the first measures against the illegal part of the sector. After both attacks, the Justice Department announced that it would raise ransomware to a level of priority similar to terrorism.
This summer, the administration also established a ransomware task force with the explicit task of countering cyberattacks and tracking cryptocurrency ransom payments.
Additionally, rumors have been circulating for some time that the administration is planning a cryptocurrency-focused executive order, speculation speculating that it could further equip President Biden to combat what he perceives as a serious threat to national security.
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