William Burns, current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said his predecessor at the Agency started multiple projects aiming at gathering intelligence on crypto.
During the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit this Monday, Burns revealed that the CIA was looking to add advancements and expertise in blockchain technology and digital assets to its intelligence analysts team. He added that the challenges from the Crypto industry could hugely impact the United States, given what we have already seen in various ransomware hacks.
Burns said, “My predecessor had started this,” seemingly referring to the former acting CIA director David Cohen’s actions. He further adds that they had started a number of various projects centered on cryptocurrency, including looking at second and third-order effects and collaborating with our peers in other sections of the U.S. administration to offer credible intelligence on what we’re witnessing.
CIA believes that blockchain analysis could act as a strong tool
The CIA director went on to say that developing such crypto expertise was a critical goal for the Agency, to which he planned to commit “resources and attention.” Burns did not provide details on the Agency’s strategy for combating cyberattacks. However, he hinted that it would aim to “get at the financial networks” of criminal gangs that hold cryptocurrencies for ransom.
Ransomware attackers demanding cryptocurrencies is one of the biggest concerns for officials as they are difficult to track due to their decentralized nature. Recently in November, MediaMarkt ransomware attackers demanded $50 million worth of Bitcoin. Before that, in October, the U.S. treasury found in a research that over $5 billion worth of transactions in Bitcoin is linked to ransom payments to only the top 10 ransomware variants.
The former acting CIA director between 2012 and 2013, Michael Morrell, believes that the blockchain analysis is a highly effective tool for the Agency to fight against crime.