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Sen. Mark Warner. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

Two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), called on Sunday for greater regulation of cryptocurrencies in order to crack down on ransomware payments from cyberattacks.

Why it matters: Last month's hacking of the Colonial Pipeline underscored the nation's vulnerability to large scale ransomeware attacks and increased attention to the importance of cybersecurity.

Be smart: Cryptocurrencies allow users to make payments anonymously and can make cybercriminals harder to trace. Ransomware payments through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have also been on the rise.

What they're saying: Warner, the Intelligence Committee chairman, acknowledged that there can be some benefits to crypto, but noted that "we are seeing now some of the dark underbelly."

  • "We do need higher cybersecurity standards," he said in his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
  • "That's why I'm focusing more on transparency...if a company is paying, if there's not some transparency of that payment, the bad guys will simply find another way to hide it," Warner said.

Blunt argued that cryptocurrency regulation is needed to ensure these types of transactions don't remain "behind the scenes" of the U.S. financial system.

  • "We have a lot of cash requirements in our country, but we haven't figured out in the country or in the world how to trace cryptocurrency," he said.
  • "[Y]ou can't trace the ransomware — the ransom payment of choice now. And we've got to do a better job here."

Go deeper: U.S. plans crypto crackdown.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 8, 2021 - Economy & Business

El Salvador's bitcoin experiment has rocky start after sell-off

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

It was a rocky start: Bitcoin suffered a disorderly sell-off on Tuesday, alongside most other cryptocurrencies, to mark the day on which it officially became legal tender in El Salvador, along with the more widely accepted U.S. dollar.

Why it matters: While a 17% daily swing is far from unprecedented for bitcoin, it's not the kind of thing most citizens want from their currencies. Neither is having a payments mechanism that can be unplugged by the government at will.

Updated 17 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.