back to article International summit agrees crack down on crypto to combat ransomware

The White House's second International Counter Ransomware Initiative summit has concluded, and this year the 36-nation group has made clear it intends to crack down on how cryptocurrencies are used to finance ransomware operations. Last year's summit ended with far fewer actionable, concrete steps in this direction, concluding …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big Brother

    Crypto never stood a chance with today's governments. If it remotely looks like it can't be tracked by government, its got to go.

    I guess this move is just 1 step of many that governments plan to use to "destabilize" cryptocurrency. I don't have any crypto but, the system/application of crypto being used as currency doesn't seem to be becoming more stable. Every time I read something about it, its value seems to be diminishing.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Big Brother and he would say that, wouldn't he

      Others would be of the opinion, bad florist, because of today’s governments, crypto have more than just a great chance of being an heroic asset to any population/nation, and it is so liquid too and easily accepted everywhere enthused by security and non-fungibility.

      There’s no doubting though such pessimism as you spout will not be countered by the traditional conventional paper money traders, for the competition it introduces they are unable to handle and direct to their pet projects/deficit and debt creation programs in the guise of credit and more paper wealth than any body would rightly know what to do with in its spending.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Craaap, he's almost making sense again, am I having a stroke

        The incomprehensible voice from the void may be right about parts of this.

        This was always an expected phase, even in fiction from before crypto took off, like Cryptonomicon. This will be a barrier for using(abusing) some of the existing networks to funnel money, but we have already seen the fork in exchanges and protocols that are buying into regulation in an attempt to go fully legitimate, and projects like Monero that DNGAF what governments think.

        So the grey and black markets will lose direct access to the banking system in some jurisdiction, which is a secondary concern for their operations. It also created a profitable role for another class of middle men and money changers to bridge those markets.

        Nothing these proposals outline will "Fix" the ransomware problem. It will just breed one more layer of shell the money will pass through. The middle men will clear enough transactions before(and if) they get busted to let the big ticket ransomware continue to operate. And it will make cases that much harder to track once the criminals adapt.

        This is just an excuse for the government to wade in and start regulating the crypto space. Not that most parts of it couldn't benefit from some sane regulation, but what we are more likely to see is a cover for asset seizures, taxes, and fees. The big exchanges will play along, and the smaller ones will scatter to jurisdictions out of the reach of the major governments.

        Which was also part of the plan from the beginning.

  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    "crypto" is conventionally used as an abbreviation for "cryptography" which is how I first took the headline. Although disappointed at the idea of a government trying to limit cryptography I wasn't surprised.

    When you are referring to cryptocurrency, please use that term, instead of abusing a term most of us understand to mean something else.

    1. Blazde Silver badge

      Aside from the usual debate over use of the term it's a truly confusing headline because cryptography is central to ransomware before you even get to the payment method. I had visions of cack-handed 90s-style attempts at export control, as if that would somehow stop the crims encrypting our files.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fair, though good luck getting amanfrommars to follow that one

      It would be a feat akin to arguing with a Knnn.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Yes, the abuse of the term "crypto" is nearly as bad as what happened with "cyber". The latter horse is not only out of the barn but living under an assumed name in a no-extradition country, but it would be nice to see the clueful segments of the tech press not spreading the "crypto"-for-cryptocurrency shit any further.

      There isn't even much in the way of interesting cryptography in cryptocurrencies. Most of them use cryptographic hashing (for the Merkle tree and mining rewards) and not a hell of a lot else. Yeah, there's Monero with its ZKP, but outside the ransomware industry it seems to be a pretty minor player, and even with ransomware my impression is Monero is only requested in a minority of demands. (Can't be bothered to research it.)

      1. Blazde Silver badge

        "There isn't even much in the way of interesting cryptography in cryptocurrencies"

        I'm a massive cynic of cryptocurrencies and even I know this is total bull. If cryptocurrencies don't have interesting cryptography then nothing outside the kind of academia so snobbish it believes real-world performance constraints are beneath them has any interesting cryptography.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Crypto was a great idea ... when it was just an idea.

    Given all the issues we have with bank transfers and wire-transfers around the world for fully legal sales, I thought that bitcoin was a great idea originally. It made bank transfers so fast and inexpensive but those features became such a criminal advantage too. So the crypto concept is good but back in the earlier days walking around town with a boy scout hat on, and an eight-inch knife in my belt was fine too.

    So the problem isn't crypto, it's the way we are all behaving these days, getting emails like bitcoin_receipt.pdf.img etc.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Crypto was a great idea ... when it was just an idea.

      How about a novel universal campaign, Version 1.0, trumpeting the original and steadfastly still valid virtues of Bitcoin which will enable it to trump all those renegade rogue wannabe a clone and divide and conquer drone counterfeit digital coin operations which the fiat exchanges so loved to render and launder their loss leader paper to. Fools and their money were easily parted in those designedly and decidedly dodgy ventures, although to imagine they were then separated and that transactions did not seed and feed the greater fool now forever looking over their shoulder trying in vain to avoid the dogged karma of just spontaneous consequences and totally unexpected repercussions is only something a dedicated fool departing with laundered money would be relying on not being true.

      One could brand the enterprise with a catchy and simple to understand slogan .... Make Bitcoin Great Again with Greater Bitcoin Forks‽ .... with such introducing the means and memes for any necessary rebirths or reinventions required for rapid expansions with virtually infinite extensions.

      That would also allow Greater Bitcoins to rightly presume and assume in that JOINT* Enterprise, a Gold Standard Market Leader Position.

      And can you imagine the fun playing in markets with games and wares emblazoned and proclaiming ... Making Bitcoin v2.0 Greater Again with Greater Bitcoin Fork Handles :-) ........

      * .....Joint Operations Internetworking Novel Technologies

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Crypto was a great idea ... when it was just an idea.

      Algorithmic bottom-up currency might be a good idea. Bitcoin is a largely shit design for that problem space. It's not particularly novel, hugely inefficient, and deflationary. It doesn't scale. Pretty much all of the claims made for it fail frequently under real-world conditions, such as anonymity, partition robustness for consensus, resistance to double-spending, and so on.

      I am not a fan of cryptocurrencies, but I'm particularly not a fan of Bitcoin. It's an ugly, broken design.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Whenever a great idea is more than just an idea .....

    ..... is it soon realised as an almighty asset for pioneering private and pirate trading and exclusive elite executive exploitation? ........

  5. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Cryptocurrencies are not just for Ransomware

    According to Reuters:

    "Almost all the funds, some $7.8 billion, flowed between Binance and Iran's largest crypto exchange, Nobitex, according to a review of data from leading U.S. blockchain researcher Chainalysis. Nobitex offers guidance on its website on how to skirt sanctions.

    Three-quarters of the Iranian funds that passed through Binance were in a relatively low-profile cryptocurrency called Tron that gives users an option to conceal their identities. In a blog post last year, Nobitex encouraged clients to use Tron - a mid-tier token - to trade anonymously without "endangering assets due to sanctions."

    The scale of Binance's Iranian crypto flows – and the fact that they are continuing – has not been previously reported.

    In July, Reuters revealed that Binance continued to serve clients in Iran and that the exchange's popularity in the Islamic republic was known inside the company. It was one of a series of Reuters investigations into Binance's troubled history with financial regulatory compliance. The day of that article's publication, Binance said in a blog post that it follows international sanctions rules on Iran and blocks access to the platform to anyone based there. The exchange's billionaire founder, Changpeng Zhao, tweeted: "Binance banned Iranian users after sanctions, 7 got missed/found a workaround, they were banned later anyways." "

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Kill ransomware 101.

    Make it a jailable offence to pay.

    No demand. No business.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Kill ransomware 101.


      This doesn't work.

      Ransomware is a very low-cost, low-risk business. If one in a thousand victims pay, it's profitable.

      It won't be hard to reach that level. Organizations will disguise payments. They'll create smokescreens that make it impossible to trace who actually authorized and made payments. They'll find scapegoats if necessary.

      Meanwhile, ransom attacks are increasingly automated. Probably a decent fraction are already entirely handled by bots. There's really no need for human intervention in the day-to-day operations of a ransomware campaign; gangs just continue to use human affiliates because they're cheap and easy. But they'll increasingly shift to automation because once you've made the initial investment, bot armies are free, and you can't undercut free.

      So eventually we'll just have fully-automated ransomware campaigns which don't care if no one pays. They exist to attack, penetrate, infect, and exfiltrate, and that's what they'll do. Computers don't get bored or frustrated.

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: Kill ransomware 101.

      The way to kill ransom ware is to ban crypto currencies. There is just no way the majority of these criminals could switch to successfully extracting payment in real currencies either through the international banking system or via cash in countries which they are have no presence. In addition you would put an end an easy method of bypassing sanctions by Russia, Iran and North Korea.

  7. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Singapore Cryptocurrency Conference

    It seems that former UK PM, Boris Johnson will be speaking at a Cryptocurrency conference in Singapore:

    "Boris Johnson is to continue his burgeoning career away from Downing Street by giving the keynote speech at a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in Singapore.

    The former prime minister, who remains the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, will appear at the International Symposium on Blockchain Advancement on December 2.

    The conference is being organised by ParallelChain Lab, a blockchain technology company that “is reimaginging the use of blockchain in the digital economy”.

    Dick Cheney, the former US vice president, is also speaking at the conference."

    I wonder whether either Johnson or Cheney will discuss the ransomware or sanctions busting issues?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Singapore Cryptocurrency Conference

      Does Boris know a great deal about the blockchain and cryptocurrency worthy of those who may do listening to what he may have to say on the subject? Is the Huffington Post similar to another, The Onion?

      His past performances on a range of other topics whilst Prime Minister of the House of Commons in the Palace of Westminster for which presumably both he and others thought him suitable to present to a captive audience and media circuses were much more entertainingly comical rather than strategically instructional ..... and that is a kind assessment of the public farce.

      I look forward to reading a press copy transcript of the speech. I imagine it won’t contain any election type promises the blockchain and cryptocurrency can easily break and dishonour whenever its principles are popularly accepted/believed possible .... but where there is a history of certain behaviour, you are never ever sure that things have fundamentally changed for the better.

      Once a UKGBNI court jester, always a UKGBNI court jester ‽ .

      What next do you think? A spell in the jungle a la Dorries and Hancock? A gig on Strictly following in the dance steps of Widdicombe and Balls? In politics, the world is your oyster and full of fantastic opportunities ;-)

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Singapore Cryptocurrency Conference

        "Does Boris know a great deal about the blockchain and cryptocurrency"

        I have no idea why he knows on the subject, but he is being paid, so I guess HE thinks he knows enough. After all for someone who described the £275,000 he got for writing articles for the Daily telegraph as "chickenfeed", he probably wants the money to pay that alimony and child support to his ex-wives and (at least 7) children.

        "What next do you think? A spell in the jungle a la Dorries and Hancock? A gig on Strictly following in the dance steps of Widdicombe and Balls?"

        I doubt he'll go for 'Strictly' or 'I'm a Celebrity' as that would require him to submit to reality, which does not seem to be his thing at all.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Regulating the fashionable crimes looks like it just reconnected every single hostile network in Russia to the Internet. Constant app attacks, brute force login attempts, and not a single working network contact in sight. None of that is blockchain, so whatevs.

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