Crypto-currency: US Justice Department launches new initiatives

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Crypto-currency: US Justice Department launches new initiatives
Crypto-currency: US Justice Department launches new initiatives

Crypto-currency exchanges want to be the banks of the future, well we need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they’re using these systems and we need to be poised to root out abuse

Aimed at targeting crypto-currency and government contractors who fail to report cyber-breaches, United States Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Wednesday unveiled two new Justice Department enforcement initiatives.

During a virtual speech at the Aspen Cyber Summit on Wednesday, Monaco announced the launch of the National Crypto-currency Enforcement Team, whose goal will be to “strengthen” the Justice Department’s ability to disable financial markets that allow cyber-criminals to “flourish”.

The group will include a mix of anti-money laundering and cyber-security experts.

“Crypto-currency exchanges want to be the banks of the future, well we need to make sure that folks can have confidence when they’re using these systems and we need to be poised to root out abuse”, Monaco said. “The point is to protect consumers”.

Cyber-criminals that attack U.S. companies with ransom-ware, a type of malware that encrypts systems and demands payment, are typically paid in crypto-currency. The hackers often use a mix of different crypto-currency services to accept and transfer these payments, helping hide them from law enforcement.

Monaco also announced the creation of a civil cyber fraud initiative, which will “use civil enforcement tools to pursue companies, those who are government contractors, who receive federal funds, when they fail to follow recommended cyber-security standards”.

“For too long, companies have chosen silence under the mistaken belief that it’s less risky to hide a breach than to bring it forward and report it. That changes today,” Monaco said.

The announcements come after several high profile cyber-attacks earlier this year against U.S. companies and government agencies.

Cyber-criminals attacked a major U.S. pipeline operator, causing localized gas shortages along the U.S. East Coast in May. The incident led to new cyber-security rules for pipeline owners in July.

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