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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.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.