United States Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen. (Photo: Getty Images)
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday blocked the assets of a cryptocurrency exchange suspected of having been used by hackers in connection with cyber “ransomware” attacks, a move that illustrates the willingness of US authorities to take action. initiative against this threat.
The US authorities have also prohibited any US citizen from using this platform, called SUEX and established in the Czech Republic, as well as any company incorporated under US law from doing business with it, under penalty of sanctions.
This is the first time the United States has sanctioned a cryptocurrency platform.
“SUEX has facilitated financial transactions involving the illicit proceeds generated by at least eight ransomware actors,” the Treasury Department said in a statement, which only blocked SUEX assets located in territories under United States jurisdiction. An analysis of the operations carried out in SUEX showed that more than 40% of them “were linked to illegal actors”.
The ransomware attack involves hackers entering an entity’s computer network and then locking the data. The authors then ask the entity’s officials to pay a ransom, most often in the form of cryptocurrency, in exchange for the unlocking.
Created in 2018, the SUEX platform was co-founded by a Russian citizen, according to various company registration sites.
Several ransomware attacks have made headlines in recent months, including the one that targeted US computer company Kaseya in July. By attacking this company, hackers gained access to more than a thousand companies that provide services around the world.
Many of the large-scale attacks were attributed to Russian-speaking or operating pirate groups from Russian territory. Moscow has always denied any responsibility in this matter.
The United States government has repeatedly indicated that this issue is a priority. In early July, President Joe Biden solemnly called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to act against cyber ransomware attacks.