The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is developing several crypto-related projects to help it get on top of the crypto crime.
Agency director William Burns spoke at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO summit earlier this week, discussing cybersecurity and how far the CIA’s own capabilities have developed.
The audience specifically wanted to know whether the CIA could eliminate and/or trace ransomware attacks conducted from overseas.
Burns confirmed that there are several crypto-focused projects currently taking place under the CIA’s watch and that those projects are developed to assist other branches of government in the US to respond to crypto ransomware.
Ransomware has become a blight on US businesses which find themselves beleaguered by the malicious software attacks.
Effectively, hackers infiltrate a system and shut it down completely until money is paid – usually in “untraceable” currencies such as crypto. One of the biggest cases involved meatpacker JBS, which paid $11m to unlock its operations.
Most hackers have requested payment in Monero or Bitcoin, two cryptocurrencies with a high level of anonymity. However, Monero, which is associated with criminal activity, has been showing cracks of late with the Internal Revenue Service promising bounty to developers who are able to crack the currency’s anonymity.
Presently, the CIA has several projects that are specifically designated to trace crypto, with several of those solutions specifically trying to thwart ransomware attacks.
Cybersecurity has become a theme of President Joe Biden’s administration, with the White House issuing a warning to friend and foe across the world that the US would exert its clout over the financial system to punish cyber criminals for launching such attacks on the US and its allies.
In the end, Burns didn’t really offer all that much info in what the agency is doing. A fair conclusion is that the CIA is increasing its capabilities to track crypto that is used by criminals.
“Follow the money”, may not have worked in the crypto world, but the CIA seems determined to buck the trend.