The Department of Justice announces changes that tend to prevent cyberthreats

WASHINGTON – A top Justice Department official said on Thursday that the agency is ramping up efforts to tackle cybercrime, as cryptocurrencies increasingly become part of the global economy and its relationships Cyber ​​threats are becoming more and more common.

Lisa O. Monaco, the bureau’s No. 2 official, said in a virtual speech at the annual cyber security conference in Munich that the agency has set up a team at the FBI dedicated to cryptocurrencies; added dozens of federal prosecutors to a unit that investigates and prosecutes crypto-criminals; and tapped a director to lead it.

“We continue to confront cybercriminals who prefer to take refuge in authoritarian countries and wreak havoc on both the digital and physical worlds,” said Monaco, adding that The change is the result of a months-long review looking at a threat that is closely linked to hostile nations and criminal gangs.

Monaco’s announcement comes a week after the Justice Department carried out its largest-ever financial forfeiture, seizing over $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin stolen in a hack. 2016.

The newly created unit at the FBI, the Virtual Asset Mining Unit, aims to provide the expertise, equipment, and training to help agents track cash flow on a blockchain, a digital ledger that permanently stores records. profile of cryptocurrency transactions. Expected to work closely with prosecutors on National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, was established in the fall. That team will be led by Eun Young Choi, a longtime computer crime prosecutor.

The Department of Justice also created an initiative to foster cooperation among international law enforcement teams as they investigate the use of virtual currency in illicit activity and track when it changes hands.

Last year, the Department of Justice cracked down on REvil, a Russian ransomware group, and seized $6.1 million in cryptocurrency allegedly paid as ransom.

Those arrests are possible because law enforcement has improved identifying people who are trading cryptocurrencies on the blockchain, where users used to enjoy a much higher degree of anonymity.

“Even in cyberspace, the Department of Justice can still use a tried and true investigative technique,” ​​Monaco said. “That’s what led us to Al Capone in the ’30s. It helped us destroy La Cosa Nostra in the ’60s. And it brought down terrorist financing networks in the early 2000s. Money. Currency may be virtual, but the message to companies is specific. “

Monaco said there has been an “explosion” of cryptocurrency abuse and use of ransomware, malicious code that prevents users from accessing their computers until they pay the ransom.

The FBI is investigating more than 100 ransomware variants, and investigators are scrutinizing dozens of ransomware groups that are estimated to have demanded billions of dollars in payments.

As hackers become increasingly sophisticated at infiltrating and stealing information from corporate and government computers, they rely on cryptocurrencies to collect ransoms from users who want their data back. .

Last year, the Department of Justice introduced a ransomware and digital extortion task force to develop ways to prevent such breaches. For the first time, investigators used traditional search warrants to execute code and remove digital backdoors, and they worked with international partners to bring down a massive network of botnets – dynamic It keeps hundreds of computers safe from hackers.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/us/politics/justice-department-cybersecurity.html The Department of Justice announces changes that tend to prevent cyberthreats

Fry Electronics Team

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