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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during a congressional hearing in June. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of the Treasury announced Tuesday it will sanction cryptocurrency exchange SUEX for allegedly facilitating financial transactions for multiple ransomware actors.

Why it matters: The sanctions, the first against a cryptocurrency exchange platform, are part of the Biden administration's crackdown on ransomware in response to several high-profile cyberattacks this year.

  • Digital currency exchanges allow people to trade cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for other assets.
  • The sanctions announced Tuesday will make it harder for SUEX to do business with U.S. entities.

By the numbers: The Treasury said that over 40% of SUEX’s known transactions have been associated with illicit actors, though it stressed that most virtual currency activity is legal.

  • It said SUEX facilitated transactions involving illicit proceeds from at least eight different types of ransomware.

What they're saying: "Virtual currency exchanges such as SUEX are critical to the profitability of ransomware attacks, which help fund additional cybercriminal activity," the Treasury said.

  • "Ransomware attacks are increasing in scale, sophistication, and frequency, victimizing governments, individuals, and private companies around the world."

The big picture: Ransomware payments in 2020 reached over $400 million, more than four times their level in 2019, according to the department.

Go deeper: DOJ to treat ransomware attacks with similar priority as terrorism

Go deeper

Google creates cybersecurity team to help respond to attacks

A Google logo at the company's offices in Berlin in August 2021. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google announced Tuesday it has created a new cybersecurity team to help respond to and prevent cyberattacks against governments, critical infrastructure managers and other crucial companies.

Why it matters: It said the creation of the team is in response to the recent surge in cyber and ransomware attacks, including the ransomware attempt against the Colonial Pipeline in May and the sprawling SolarWinds breach, which was uncovered in December 2020 but likely existed for months before its discovery.

Updated 59 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.