In remarks at an industry event in Washington today, Acting FinCEN Director Himamauli Das addressed the growing threat of ransomware.
“Ransomware is a huge problem,” Das said. “They’ve targeted virtually every sector of the economy. They almost always demand their payment in virtual currencies. They’ve become more selective in choosing victims, both in terms of targeting larger enterprises and demanding bigger payouts. They’re using new revenue streams—for example, ransomware service or double extortion—and they’re finding new ways to hide their entities and move money using by increasingly using anonymized virtual currencies.”
In response, FinCEN has deployed “a wide range of financial enforcement and other actions . . . including sanctions, guidance and advisories and public-private partnerships,” Das noted. He emphasized that combating ransomware is “a shared effort,” and that FinCEN is working collaboratively with the private sector “so we can be more effective in terms of collecting information, understanding trends and typologies, and then creating a virtuous feedback loop.” As the financial industry continues to innovate, Das added that FinCEN is working to “keep up-to-date on what those technological advancements are to be able to understand what the potential for exploitation is.”