Giving the opening remarks during a U.S. House meeting on illegal digital activities, Representative and subcommittee chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) noted a major jump for online crime in 2020.

“We are seeing a 75% spike in daily cybercrimes, reported by the FBI since the start of the pandemic,” Cleavor said in his opening statements of the June 16 virtual hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy. 

Speaker dials into specific attacks and sectors

After COVID-19 prevention measures caused business closures and shelter-in-place orders in mid-March, many companies looked to remote work. As droves of people increased their web activity, hackers saw more opportunities. Amid newfound need for online meetings, for example, popular video meeting platform Zoom suffered widespread data leaks

Called on for comment as a witness in the meeting, VMware’s head of cybersecurity strategy, Tom Kellermann, singled out the finance industry, noting a 238% uptick in related digital crime between January and May 2020. “This is compounded by the 900% increase in ransomware attacks,” he added. 

Kellermann mentions a crypto connection

After noting a number of ways nefarious parties have preyed on victims, Kellerman mentioned an uptick in crypto exchange hacks and leaks. He also explained that parties use these venues as a means of laundering money, in tandem with the dark web and anonymous digital assets.

“Dark web forums enabled by anonymous virtual currencies have created a bazaar for criminals and organized crime to reach a global market,” Kellerman said, also mentioning “extremist organizations.”

The VMware cybersecurity head added:

“Many of these payment systems and cryptocurrencies offer true or relative anonymity. This raises the necessity of increased regulation of digital money.”

In combination with a number of other points, Kellermann posited increased regulation as a possible solution, mentioning several proposed regulatory actions.

Bitcoin maintains a level of pseudonymity, depending on its purchase origin. In most cases, however, the public can track Bitcoin more easily than cash. Although Kellermann called out digital assets for their anonymity, many assets yield traceability. Anonymous coins, such as Monero and Zcash, tout additional privacy-focused features, but are often misunderstood. Recent research shows criminals’ lack of proper anonymous usage.  



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2020-06-16