Hearing explores ransomware attacks, cryptocurrency cybercrimes

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The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently conducted a hearing addressing the uptick in ransomware attacks and the use of cryptocurrencies as ransom payments in these attacks.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) convened the session to explore how cryptocurrencies have facilitated the rise of ransomware attacks, the need for data to deter the attacks, and how network breaches continually provide disruptions.

“A single ransomware attack can force businesses to close their doors permanently, even if they pay the ransom demand,” Peters said in his opening statement during the hearing. “Malign actors almost exclusively demand cryptocurrencies when extorting large sums of money because they can take steps to obscure their transactions and circumvent regulatory scrutiny, making payments more difficult to trace.”

Last year, the majority of global ransomware revenue went to groups located in Russia or are controlled by the Russian government and advocates the federal government bolstering initiatives combating Russian-backed criminal hackers.

“My investigation found that the federal government lacks sufficient data and information on ransomware attacks and the use of cryptocurrency as ransom payment in these attacks – and must collect better data to understand the scope of the threat,” he said.

Peters and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) previously introduced the Cyber Incident Reporting Act, which would require critical infrastructure owners and operators to report to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) if they experience a substantial cyber-attack or if they make a ransomware payment.