U.S. Treasury warns of increase in ransomware scams, attacks

Citing the increase of ransomware scams and attacks, the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Tuesday issued two advisories in an effort to assist individuals and businesses.

The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network advisory provides information on the role of financial intermediaries in payments, ransomware trends and typologies and related financial red flags. It also provides information on effectively reporting and sharing information related to ransomware attacks.

“Ransomware attacks are a growing concern for the financial sector because of the critical role financial institutions play in the collection of ransom payments,” the FinCEN advisory stated. “Processing ransomware payments is typically a multi-step process that involves at least one depository institution and one or more money services business.”

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also issued an advisory that highlights the sanctions risks associated with facilitating ransomware payments on behalf of victims targeted by malicious cyber-enabled activities.

This OFAC advisory outlines designations of malicious cyber actors and those who facilitate ransomware transactions under its cyber-related sanctions program. It also identifies resources for reporting ransomware attacks and information on the factors OFAC generally considers when determining an appropriate enforcement response to an apparent violation, such as the existence, nature and adequacy of a sanctions compliance program. The advisory also encourages financial institutions and other companies that engage with victims of ransomware attacks to report the attacks and cooperate with law enforcement.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Information and resources on cybersecurity are available from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cybersecurity Alliance.

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