Countries are moving at vastly different paces to tackle the abuse of virtual currencies, leaving regulatory gray areas where small cryptocurrency exchanges can hide. Many countries disagree on what transactions to permit and how tightly to control them. And experts warn of a persistent divide between well-resourced governments and those with less economic power.
“Developed nations will have consistent standards, and other countries will not, and that’s always going to be the way it is,” said Andrew Jacobson, a former financial crimes investigator for New York state who is now a lawyer in the cryptocurrency group at Seward & Kissel LLP.
The fuel for ransomware
The ability for cyber criminals to hide in the vast and complex cryptocurrency world has emboldened ransomware gangs, who have been demanding increasingly large sums to unlock their victims’ files. The average ransom payment in the first quarter of 2021 was $220,298, a 43-percent increase from the previous quarter, according to the security firm Coveware. In 2020, the FBI reported receiving 20 percent more ransomware complaints than it had in 2019.
At a press briefing in early July, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s strategy against ransomware would involve “expanding cryptocurrency analysis to find and pursue criminal transactions.”
Lawmakers are also getting engaged. Late last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to lead the development of “a…