FBI launches 'crypto unit' to curb online crime

The Bureau wants more expertise on virtual currency, the most common asset in most cybercrime cases.

The new 'nerve center' for the FBI's virtual currency program, dubbed Virtual Assets Unit (VAU), will help the organization with intelligence, technology, and operational support.

According to the FBI, VAU will house virtual currency experts and additional resources to help integrate the understanding of cryptocurrencies in the investigation process.

The motivation for setting up a crypto-focused unit is clear: virtual assets dominate the cyber underworld as means of ransom and payments between threat actors.

"Virtual currency is used to facilitate nearly every type of online criminal activity, including ransomware attacks, child exploitation, and furthering the activities of hostile nation-states," the FBI said.

The new unit is expected to help the FBI and other law enforcement agencies track illicit funds' movement and disrupt illegal activity.

According to Brian C. Turner, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, the FBI has a long history of using virtual currency to track criminals profiting from ransomware, soliciting murders-for-hire, and raising funds for terrorist organizations.

The VAU is meant to help agents throughout the organization to make the most out of the virtual currency expertise the FBI already possesses.

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