Just a day or so after announcing sanctions on crypto exchanges that engage in illicit transactions or the processing of ransomware payments, it looks like the U.S. Treasury Department is taking regulatory action against Suex, a crypto trading platform that has allegedly taken part in facilitating ransomware in the past.
Suex Has Been Reprimanded
According to the Treasury, ransomware is becoming a serious problem. Payments totaled more than $400 million last year alone, which is about four times more than what was witnessed in 2019.
Ransomware situations usually occur when a malicious actor takes over a computer network or important data held by a company, government agency, or similar establishment. They hold the data hostage and encrypt it, refusing to let it go until the person(s) in charge agree to fork over a hefty sum in exchange for it. Typically, this sum is requested in bitcoin or some other form of cryptocurrency.
The Treasury claims that Suex helped facilitate illegal ransomware transactions “for their own illicit gains.” The company is reported to have done this at least eight times. The Treasury also stated that approximately 40 percent of all transactions occurring through Suex are illegal in some way.
By imposing sanctions on the company, The Treasury says it will be much harder for Suex to engage in business with companies stationed in the United States. Individuals or businesses based in the U.S. are not able to engage with firms that have been reprimanded or sanctioned by the Treasury. Should they attempt to do so anyway, they could also find themselves facing legal consequences in the future.
This news comes just a few days after the Treasury claimed it would be taking such action against firms that processed ransomware payments. In addition, the organization is also releasing new guidance for businesses to follow should they ever find themselves trapped in a ransomware-based situation.
For example, the Treasury suggests that all companies cooperate every step of the way with law enforcement. They should report any ransomware issues to agencies right away so that steps can be taken to ensure whatever’s been taken or encrypted is rightfully returned.
Ransomware Is Becoming More Common
One of the most recent examples of a ransomware attack occurred on the Colonial Pipeline. Hackers took the entity hostage and saw to it that all data was encrypted. They then demanded a bitcoin ransom of several million dollars if the system was to be restored.
However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was quick to get involved. It managed to redirect at least part of the crypto ransom payment that the Pipeline was forced to pay. It went into the hacker’s digital account and retrieved more than $2 million, making it so that the illicit actors were not entirely successful.