Making the most of cybersecurity awareness month, which marks its 18th year this October, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced it is launching a national cryptocurrency enforcement team targeting cybercrime.

Fast facts

  • During a virtual speech at the Aspen Cyber Summit on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said: “Cryptocurrency exchanges want to be the banks of the future. Well, we need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they’re using these systems and we need to be poised to root out abuse … The point is to protect consumers.”
  • Crypto hawk Senator Elizabeth Warren has also drafted a bill this week that would force companies and organizations to provide the U.S. Department of Homeland Security data on any ransomware payments made to cybercriminals. The Ransom Disclosure Act would not force individuals to report such information, however.
  • These developments come only days after President Joe Biden released a statement calling on the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the issue of cybercrime. He plans to convene a 30-country virtual meeting this month to discuss the issue. Ransomware has become a growing concern this year following significant attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS, in which millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin were paid to cybercriminals.  Much of that ransomed Bitcoin was subsequently recovered by authorities.
  • “The ransomware legislation is an acknowledgement that crime has entered the 21st century even if the law hasn’t,” Andrew Sullivan, managing director at Outset Global, told Forkast.News. “The fact that the internet allows ransomware crimes to be committed from remote locations indicates there needs to global enforcement, although where some of the criminals may be states or state-endorsed could mean there is still a problem, but at least it would be more apparent.”