Justice Department unveils cryptocurrency enforcement team to trace, recover ransomware payments

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The Justice Department launched the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team on Oct. 6 to investigate and prosecute criminal misuse of cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks.

Five things to know:

  1. The team will move forward under Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr.'s guidance, according to a news release. The enforcement will combine the expertise of the Justice Department's money laundering and asset recovery section, computer crime section and more.

  2. The team is tasked with strengthening the federal government's capabilities to dismantle the financial entities that enable hacker groups to rake in profits. It also will assist in tracing and recovering assets lost in payments to ransomware groups.

  3. "As the technology advances, so too must the Department evolve with it so that we're poised to root out abuse on these platforms and ensure confidence in these systems," Mr. Polite said.

  4. The Justice Department is still in the process of naming a leader for the team.

  5. Cryptocurrency is widely used in ransom demands because it is harder to trace. U.S. law enforcement confirmed it was able to recover $2.3 million out of $4 million paid in Bitcoin to the hacker group behind the Colonial Pipeline attack in May.

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