The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has blacklisted ten individuals and two entities on its crypto-related activities designation.
So also have their Bitcoin (BTC) wallets blacklisted by the Treasury Department. They were added to the blacklist in relation to the roles they played in some malicious acts that were discovered. Specifically, they were found to be connected to some ransomware attacks and cyber espionage on the crypto blockchain.
Expressively, the press release dated September 14, 2022, stated that all the blacklisted individuals and entities are somewhat connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
This is a branch of the Iranian Army that defends the nation against internal and external threats. Notably, three blacklisted individuals identified as Amir Hossein Nikaeen Ravari and Ahmad Khatibi Aghada are members of the IRGC.
Investigations showed that these IRGC members assisted in designing and deploying the ransomware which launched the attacks.
Over the years, these malicious groups have transcended their mode of operation. These bad actors explore technical loopholes to perpetrate their attacks, ranging from software vulnerabilities, and unauthorized computer access, to data exfiltration.
Invariably, they also make use of encryptions to compromise networks without authorization.
Charging for ransom, they hold on to the decryption keys of such compromised networks. These are only a few compared to the several strategies which they explore to infiltrate many networks and platforms. Important to realize is that victims of these attacks are mostly healthcare, educational, transportation, and emergency service providers.
U.S. Regulates Crypto-Related Activities
Generally, the U.S. is keen on pushing away every form of malicious activity, especially in its financial sector as it concerns crypto-related activities. Per the published statement,
“Today’s action demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to disrupting ransomware infrastructure and actors. The United States will not tolerate malicious cyber activities, including disruptive cybercrime activities, victimizing the backbone of the U.S. economy and critical infrastructure.”
From the beginning of this year, the United States has already established its stance on cryptocurrency including the associated risks. Hence, the approval and signing of an executive order by President Joe Biden. As part of the executive order, the president emphasized customers/investor protection as well as compliance with anti-money laundering practices.
In all, this joint action with the Department of Justice, Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Cyber Command, National Security Agency, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency goes further to pronounce the nation’s aim to protect its citizens.