In an admission that should not surprise anyone, the CIA chief confirmed that the CIA has several projects related to cryptocurrency.

Previous rumors circulated that the unknown creators of the popular cryptocurrency could have connections to the intelligence community, while there is a feeling among crypto enthusiasts that the US government is lurking in the background of the cryptocurrency scene, waiting to strike its enemies with the technology.

CIA Director William Burns made his comments at the end of a speech at the CEO Summit, Motherboard reported.

After discussing everything from a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine to space challenges, an attendee asked whether the agency was involved in crypto technology, which is currently playing a major role in the ransomware crises that hit many American institutions and American officials are trying to deal with and eradicate.

What did Burns say?

“This is something I inherited,” Burns said. “My predecessor started with it, but he has gone on to do a number of different projects focused on cryptocurrency and trying to look at the outcomes of those projects, helping our colleagues in other parts of the U.S. government provide solid intelligence on what we’re seeing as well. ".

Burns admitted the involvement of US intelligence in cryptocurrency activities (French)

The CIA’s interest in the cryptocurrency world is not uncommon. Aside from talking about the libertarian spirit of the cryptocurrency world, cryptography is based on the “blockchain” technology that powers cryptocurrencies, and has always been of paramount importance to the military and intelligence community.

In 2013, internal NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that "tracking" users of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies was one of the agency's top priorities, and this raised some concerns that NSA data was being used covertly in prosecutions, such as the case of the owner of a website. "Silk Road" Ross Ulbricht, who was convicted on charges of money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to transfer false identity documents, and drug trafficking in February 2015.

Ulbricht is currently serving a life sentence in the United States of America without the possibility of parole, but the FBI has denied that he used this technology to reach Ulbricht.

Cryptocurrency is a valuable tool for a number of outlaws, such as ransomware gangs that the CIA could track down. These gangs are capable of wreaking havoc in large organizations and targeting infrastructure, often based abroad and sometimes suspected of being linked. intelligence agencies in a foreign country.

Ulbricht was convicted on charges of money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to transfer false identity documents and drug trafficking (communication sites)

A ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts computer file systems so that they cannot be recovered without knowing a specific encryption key, and the operator (the hacker) usually asks the victim to pay a ransom in the form of cryptocurrency to regain access to the target system.

For example, a cyberattack in May 2021 on the pipeline of the US company Colonial Pipeline succeeded in causing gas shortages and panic across the East Coast.

The gang that infected the pipeline operator's systems with ransomware is believed to be based in Russia, and the attack was believed to be the result of decades of neglect in infrastructure cybersecurity that the feds seem to have taken notice of.

The US Military Cyber ​​Command recently revealed that it has taken unspecified offensive measures against ransomware gangs targeting US companies, which has raised some concern that it is militarizing the cybercrime response.

Burns specifically mentioned ransomware during his remarks at the conference, saying that cryptocurrency is one way to identify malicious actors who have hidden their tracks via cryptocurrency.

“Cryptocurrencies can have a huge impact on everything from ransomware attacks, as you mentioned,” Burns told the audience, “because one of the means of accessing and deterring ransomware attacks is the ability to access the financial networks that many of those criminal networks use.” It deals correctly with the issue of cryptocurrencies as well."