The U.S Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is taking action against a ransomware group targeting individuals and companies in the United States by adding associated persons and their properties to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN).
In a statement, the Treasury Department says that it is sanctioning the ransomware group affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as part of a collaborative effort with other government departments and agencies to protect Americans from cybercrimes.
The prohibition takes effect as ransomware payments in the United States hit $590 million in 2021, up by over 41% from $416 million in 2020.
The department says that the group exploits software vulnerabilities to execute ransomware attacks. It is also engaged in other illicit cyber activities including unauthorized computer access and data exfiltration.
“This group has launched extensive campaigns against organizations and officials across the globe, particularly targeting US and Middle Eastern defense, diplomatic, and government personnel, as well as private industries including media, energy, business services, and telecommunications.”
The OFAC sanction effectively bars Americans from dealing with persons, properties and Bitcoin (BTC) addresses associated with the group.
“The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action.”
The OFAC imposes the ban in the wake of a recent decision to allow Tornado Cash users to withdraw their frozen assets. The agency sanctioned the crypto mixing service in August over concerns it is used to facilitate terrorism and money laundering.
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