Bitcoin Ransomware Payments 'Dangerous Precedent': Home Surveillance Chair

US Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee, puts two new ransomware victims in the hot seat. In letters sent today to Colonial Pipeline and CNA Financial, President Maloney requested details about his alleged payments to hackers who took control of the two companies' computer networks in May and March, respectively. "I am extremely concerned that the decision to pay international crime actors sets a dangerous precedent that will set an even greater target behind critical infrastructure in the future," he wrote. NEW: @OversightDems president @RepMaloney has sent letters to Colonial Pipeline Company and CNA Financial Corporation requesting documentation regarding ransom payment decisions after the recent ransomware attacks. — Oversight Committee (@OversightDems) June 3, 2021 Maloney's letters reflect ransomware attacks and the cryptocurrency payments they often trigger. becomes a political issue. The US Department of Justice announced today that it will approach such attacks with the same urgency as terrorism. And a spokesperson for the Biden administration said yesterday that it is looking to expand its cryptocurrency pursuit as a countermeasure. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, particularly the privacy coin Monero, are used to facilitate much of the ransom as they can operate outside of tightly regulated financial realms. According to a recent report from analytics firm Elliptic, hacking groups have raked in more than $90 million in Bitcoin this year. And hackers don't give up. An attack on meat packer JBS threatened to cut most of the US meat supply, reported this week by Russia-linked REvil/Sodinokibi. JBS said it has now regained control of its facilities, although it is unclear whether it paid the ransom to fix the problem. Last year, as ransomware attacks increased, the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) warned companies.

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