US gears up for sanctions on crypto ransomware payments, report says

Sanctions could be announced early as next week, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Julian Dossett Writer
Julian is a staff writer at CNET. He's covered a range of topics, such as tech, travel, sports and commerce. His past work has appeared at print and online publications, including New Mexico Magazine, TV Guide, Mental Floss and NextAdvisor with TIME. On his days off, you can find him at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque watching the ballgame.
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As early as next week, the Biden administration will announce new measures, including sanctions, that will make it more difficult for hackers to seek cryptocurrency payments in ransomware attacks, according to a report Friday from The Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the matter."

Ransomware attacks continue to create significant issues for public and private entities of all sizes. A study from cybersecurity firm Sophos found the average cost of ransomware recovery rose from over $760,000 last year to $1.85 million in 2021. 

Hackers often demand payment in crypto due to the ease of transmitting the ransom payments. It's difficult, but not impossible, for law enforcement to track down the payments once the crypto is sent. 

While no formal announcement is out yet, the Treasury Department could announce sanctions as early as next week, according to the Journal. 

The Treasury Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.