White House ransomware summit calls for crypto crackdown • The Register

The 30-country gabfest held under the auspices of the United States National Security Council’s anti-ransomware initiative ended with an agreement that increased regulation of virtual assets is needed to reduce the attractiveness of digital coins for criminals.

A joint statement published after the conclusion of the event opens with innocuous observations on the need for good infosec, international collaboration and the benefits of private sector engagement.

The first mention of concrete action is in a section of the statement titled “Against Illicit Funding” – and while the document never mentions cryptocurrencies, it is clear that they are a target.

“Taking action to disrupt the ransomware business model requires a concerted effort to address illicit financial risks posed by all value transfer systems, including virtual assets, the primary instrument used by criminals for ransomware payments. and the resulting money laundering. “

As incident after incident of ransomware infection requires payments in cryptocurrency, there is little reason to doubt that this is a crackdown on cryptocurrency.

The statement rejects much of the blame for the ransomware / cryptocurrency nexus at the feet of nations that failed to follow the standards set by the Financial action group – the global monitoring body for money laundering and terrorist financing.

The uneven implementation of the working group’s rules “creates an environment conducive to judicial arbitration by malicious actors seeking platforms to move illicit proceeds without being subject to appropriate anti-money laundering obligations (AML) and other obligations, “the statement said, firing few shots albeit diplomatically.

Summit attendees emerged “dedicated to strengthening our efforts to disrupt the ransomware business model and associated money laundering activities, including ensuring that our national anti-money laundering frameworks effectively identify and mitigate risks associated with virtual asset service providers and related activities.

“We will strengthen the capacity of our national authorities, to include regulators, financial intelligence units and law enforcement to regulate, supervise, investigate and take action against the exploitation of virtual assets with appropriate protections for confidentiality, and recognizing that specific actions may vary depending on domestic contexts.

Such actions are already underway: Ahead of the summit, Australia announced a ransomware policy under which the nation pledged to change its criminal laws to “strengthen law enforcement’s ability to intercept financial transactions cryptocurrency cybercriminals, including the ability to get information about, and monitor, digital wallets. “

Other initiatives promised in the statement include diplomatic efforts to build capacity that helps disrupt ransomware operations and work “to eliminate havens for operators who conduct such disruptive and destabilizing operations.” ®

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Steven L. Nielsen

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