The US Treasury on Friday said suspected ransomware payments totaling $590 million were made in the first six months of this year, more than the $416 million reported for the whole of 2020, as Washington put the cryptocurrency industry on alert about its role in combating ransomware attacks.
The Treasury said the average amount of reported ransomware transactions per month in 2021 was $102.3 million, with REvil/Sodinokibi, Conti, DarkSide, Avaddon, and Phobos the most prevalent ransomware strains reported.
Seeking to stop the use of cryptocurrencies in the payment of ransomware demands, the Treasury said the crypto community is responsible for making sure they do not "directly or indirectly" help facilitate deals that are prohibited by US sanctions.
Its new guidance said the virtual currency industry plays an increasingly critical role in preventing those blacklisted from exploiting virtual currencies to evade sanctions.
"Treasury is helping to stop ransomware attacks by making it difficult for criminals to profit from their crimes, but we need partners in the private sector to help prevent this illicit activity," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.