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FinCEN Warns on Ransomware Attacks, Notes Increased Targeting of Government Entities

Ransomware attackers use malicious software to block access to data and demand ransom in return, oftentimes deploying the threat to make proprietary data public.

Oct 1, 2020 at 6:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:03 a.m. UTC

Amid a rising incidence of ransomware attacks being reported this year, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory Thursday concerning such attacks.

  • FinCEN’s advisory notes that governmental entities, and financial, educational and health care institutions have been particularly targeted by these attacks. 
  • The financial watchdog’s advisory notes the “severity and sophistication” of such attacks has continued to rise. It adds that this also represents a major concern for financial intermediaries, like banks or exchanges, because quite often they’re the ones processing ransom payments for such attacks. 
  • The advisory said these attacks have increasingly targeted larger enterprises for bigger payouts, attackers tend to share resources to increase effectiveness of their attacks, and usually require payments be made using cryptocurrencies, most commonly bitcoin (BTC). 
  • It also notes ransomware attacks on small municipalities and healthcare entities have also seen an increase, likely due to the lack of sophisticated cybersecurity controls available to such entities. 

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