The US 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 individuals and their assets to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN).
In a statement, the Treasury Department said it is sanctioning the ransomware group affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as part of a partnership with other government departments and agencies to protect Americans from cybercrime.
The ban comes into effect as ransom payments in the US reached $590 million in 2021, up over 41% from $416 million in 2020.
The department says the group exploits software vulnerabilities to carry out ransomware attacks. It is also engaged in other illegal cyber activities, including unauthorized computer access and data exfiltration.
“This group has launched extensive campaigns against organizations and officials worldwide, particularly targeting US and Middle East defense, diplomatic and government personnel, as well as private industries including media, energy, business services and telecommunications.”
The OFAC sanction effectively prevents Americans from dealing with people, property and Bitcoin (BTC) addresses associated with the group.
“The prohibitions include making any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services by, to or for the benefit of a blocked person, or receiving any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from such a person .
In addition, financial institutions and other persons who engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to enforcement.”
OFAC is imposing the ban in the wake of a recent decision to allow Tornado Cash users to withdraw their frozen assets. The agency sanctioned the crypto-mingling service in August over concerns that it is being used to facilitate terrorism and money laundering.
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