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US Treasury sanctions crypto exchange over ransomware attacks

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on a crypto exchange after claiming that it allowed ransomware hackers to launder extortion payments.

The ruling represents one of the most significant to date on a digital asset company.

The Treasury added that ransomware payments amounted to over $400m last year, a four-fold increase from 2019.

Ransomware is a form of cyberattack where bad actors restrict access to key programs and demand a payment in order to reopen them.

The payment often comes in the form of Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control will sanction Russian-based OTC broker Suex for its role in facilitating transactions for ransomware actors.

The department specifically said that Suex enabled illegal activity “for their own illicit gains”.

It was also alleged that Suex “has facilitated transactions involving illicit proceeds from at least eight ransomware variants”.

Cybersecurity experts have previously brought attention to the need to make it more difficult for cyber criminals to receive and launder ransom payments, which can be made easier by cryptos which are difficult to trace.

The Treasury linked 40% of Suex’s transactions to illicit actors, while the firm allowed funds to be laundered from more than eight ransomware variants.

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