William Malcolm

US Sanctions Crypto Exchange Registered In Czech Republic Over Ransomware Ties

The US government announced today that it will impose sanctions on SUEX OTC, which is registered in the Czech Republic. The cryptobourse, which according to the AP operates through branches in Russia, allowed illegal payments in cyber attacks of at least eight types of ransomware, the US Treasury Department said. This is the first such anti-cryptoburse action in conjunction with ransomware, which encrypts data on compromised computers and subsequently demands a ransom for the corrupted.

“Stock exchanges such as SUEX play a vital role in allowing attackers to collect profits from ransomware,” said Deputy Finance Minister Wally Adeyemo. “Today’s measure heralds our intention to detect and dismantle the illegal infrastructure behind these attacks,” he added.

Hackers use ransomware to shut down systems that can control everything from hospital billing to production. The infected system will not restart until you receive a high ransom, usually paid in cryptocurrencies.

SUEX is one of the most active of the small group of cryptobourses that provide most of the money laundering for cybercriminals, wrote Chainalysis, a forensic blockchain analysis company. It monitors illegal cryptocurrency transactions in cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

Although the SUEX cryptobourse is registered in the Czech Republic, it does not physically operate there and its operations are provided by branches in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Chainalysis added. In Russia, users can have the cryptography redeemed in the legal currency.

An analysis of known transactions on the SUEX covered exchange shows that more than 40 percent of them involved illegal entities, the US Treasury Department said. While some exchanges are being abused by bad players, others, such as SUEX, “facilitate illegal activities for their own illegal profits,” the ministry added in a statement.