Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

The U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidelines specifying how to ensure virtual currency transactions comply with the government’s sanctions policies, a move by the Biden administration to thwart ransomware attacks, money laundering and other abuses. The new rules emphasize using geolocation tools that block IP addresses from sanctioned countries, ongoing monitoring of sanctioned entities and individuals and periodic review of transactions involving blacklisted virtual currency addresses. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has had virtual currency rules in place since at least 2011, but this update gives the directives new teeth. Continue reading Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

Payments flagged by U.S. banks as suspected ransomware in 2021 are on pace to nearly double those of 2020, according to reports filed with the Treasury Department. Almost $600 million in potential ransomware payments have been filed with the federal government from January through June, which is more than 40 percent more than the tally for full-year 2020. Reflecting the fact that governments worldwide describe cybercrime as a critical national security threat, the first International Cybersecurity Challenge is scheduled for Greece in June 2022, where 25 Americans aged 18 to 26 are set to compete. Continue reading U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

The U.S. Department of Justice has formed the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to investigate the use of cryptocurrency for criminal purposes. The new unit will examine cases involving virtual currency exchanges and money laundering. Members will also investigate so-called “mixing and tumbling” services, which involve charging a fee to send cryptocurrency to an address while obscuring the source of funds. The group, which include experts from the offices of U.S. Attorneys, will also work on tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud, hacking or ransomware extortion. Continue reading Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

El Salvador First Country to Make Bitcoin a National Currency

Amidst political turmoil and economic struggle, El Salvador has announced it is adopting Bitcoin as its national currency, becoming the first country in the world to do so. But things got off to a rough start this week as the Bitcoin e-wallet went offline for several hours as consumer download demand overwhelmed government servers. El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the country will spend more than $225 million to launch Bitcoin. Global Bitcoin enthusiasts supported the initiative by buying $30 of Bitcoin, but that didn’t prevent the currency from declining 9.9 percent Tuesday evening. Continue reading El Salvador First Country to Make Bitcoin a National Currency

Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

Twitter has selected startup founder and cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber to head up its open-source project Bluesky. Although Twitter funds Bluesky, it will operate independently of the social giant. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey stated that Bluesky is his “biggest focus right now,” and Graber explained that she is “excited to take on this role and build the future of social media.” Dorsey established Bluesky to create protocol technology that would break down the boundaries between various social media services. Continue reading Twitter Chooses Crypto Developer to Lead Its Bluesky Project

AMC Opens New Theater Locations, Plans to Accept Bitcoin

AMC Entertainment Holdings is in the midst of changes intended to appeal to its Reddit investors. In addition to opening new locations, chief executive Adam Aron said the company would start accepting Bitcoin at U.S. locations by the end of 2021. After AMC was brought to the verge of bankruptcy by COVID-19 lockdowns, its revenue tripled in the June quarter compared to the previous 2021 quarter. In the wake of that news, share prices rose 4.6 percent to $35.36 in after-hours trading. Its stock ended in 2020 at $2.12. Continue reading AMC Opens New Theater Locations, Plans to Accept Bitcoin

Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund focused on blockchain and digital asset startups. The venture capital firm’s first crypto-focused fund was introduced three years ago, during the last bear market dubbed “crypto winter,” when cryptocurrency’s value plummeted 80 percent from a 2017 high. Andreessen Horowitz partners Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, who run the company’s cryptocurrency group, stated that they “believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto.” Continue reading Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Bitcoin is touted as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct financial transactions, one reason why cybercriminals use it or some other cryptocurrency when conducting illegal business, whether it’s drug trafficking or ransomware. But this week the Justice Department revealed that it traced and recovered 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins ($2.3 million of the total $4.3 million) that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom to release its computer systems. The feds declined to detail how they recouped the Bitcoin. Meanwhile, El Salvador has become the first nation to formally adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Continue reading Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

The FBI is investigating 100 ransomware variants, stated director Christopher Wray, who revealed that many of them trace back to Russian hackers. He noted that the cyberattacks share “a lot of parallels … a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention” with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most recently, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline cost its operators $4.4 million to regain control and restore services (however, federal authorities recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency yesterday). Another attack targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company.  Continue reading FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

PayPal announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, which allows customers to purchase certain items online via cryptocurrencies. The new feature is part of the company’s new unit focused on blockchain and crypto/digital currencies and adds to its current capability for customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash are the cryptocurrencies accepted, which are processed with clear conversion rates and no additional fees but only one type of cryptocurrency is accepted for each purchase. Continue reading PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

Digital Collage Sells for a Record $69.3 Million at NFT Auction

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been generating headlines, most recently when graphic designer and self-taught artist Mike Winkelmann (also known as Beeple) sold a digital image online at Christie’s auction house for $69.3 million. It was also the most expensive digital asset to ever sell with a “digital certificate of authenticity,” otherwise known as an NFT. The blockchain-based assets differ from cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in that each NFT is a “singularly unique marker for the digital asset it tags.” Hence the uproar in the art world over Beeple’s record-breaking sale. Continue reading Digital Collage Sells for a Record $69.3 Million at NFT Auction

Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

Bitcoin’s price surged above $50,000 for the first time yesterday as companies including Tesla, Mastercard, PayPal and BNY Mellon showed support for the cryptocurrency. Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment for its cars, while Mastercard added that it too would accept Bitcoin as payment for “some of its products.” Coin Metrics reported that Bitcoin broke the $50,000 metric by rising 3 percent on Tuesday to $50,487, and hitting a fresh record high of $51,715 earlier today. Meanwhile, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce has called for crypto regulation. Continue reading Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape

Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs convened in early December to record The Cryptocurrency Landscape session that CES 2021 released today. Panelists discussed how Wyoming has established legal and regulatory protocols for Bitcoin to make cryptocurrency activities compatible with existing banking regulations. They also discussed how institutions and businesses are getting more comfortable with cryptocurrency investments, how online payment services such as PayPal and Venmo have added Bitcoin to their transaction options, and how cryptocurrency’s provable scarcity makes it more attractive to investors and the general public as countries issue more currency to prop up their economies during the COVID shutdown. Continue reading CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape

Investments in Bitcoin Increase During the COVID Pandemic

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is on a roll, rising to a record high since the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic. In March it had skidded to below $4,000. This time, however, its growth is not being driven by the same speculative forces that led to its peak of $19,783 in 2017. Instead, American companies and other traditional investors are gravitating to Bitcoin as an alternative asset, similar to gold, that enables them to place part of their financial portfolio outside the influence of governments and the traditional financial systems. Continue reading Investments in Bitcoin Increase During the COVID Pandemic

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator