The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned ten people and two entities connected to “conducting malicious cyber acts, including ransomware activity,” it announced today.
The sanctioned parties are allegedly associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces. This organization is on the terrorist blacklist of the U.S. government.
“Today, OFAC, as part of a whole-of-government response, took action against a group of Iran-based malicious cyber actors who have been compromising networks based in the United States and other nations since at least 2020,” OFAC stated.
Cybersecurity attacks are growing worldwide.
The number of malicious cybersecurity attacks has grown recently, forcing government agencies to further their efforts. This group has targeted multiple diplomatic and government personnel, the U.S. and Middle Eastern defense, and private industries, including energy, business services, media, and telecommunications, since 2020.
OFAC has shared that it blacklisted several bitcoin wallet addresses connected to the IRGC group, which also conducted several ransomware attacks. The wallets are tied to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members, namely Ahmad Khatibi Aghada and Amir Hossein Nikaeen Ravari.
At the time of the block, the wallets did not hold any Bitcoin. On-chain data shows that the digital assets were withdrawn in May. One of the accounts tied to both members of IRGC had 2.49 Bitcoin overall.
Not the first Treasury’s Bitcoin rodeo
The move is not the first time the Treasury has blacklisted or taken other actions against crypto digital wallets and other products linked to illegal activities.
In May, the agency blocked a cryptocurrency mixing service Blender, which they believe was tied to North Korean hackers who laundered around $20.5 million in the Axie Infinity hack in March.
OFAC’s recent decision to blacklist an Ethereum-based crypto mixer Tornado Cash has gained much attention and criticism. The Department sanctioned the platform alleging “national security issue” and ties to money laundering in August and is already being sued (and crucified by the crypto community) for this move.
The agency published guidelines allowing Tornado Cash users to withdraw their digital assets, as they were automatically banned from using the service after OFAC put it on the sanctioned list.
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