Hillicon Valley — Treasury sanctions Iran over cyberattack

·4 min read

The Treasury Department sanctioned Iran in response to an alleged cyberattack the country launched against Albania in July.

Meanwhile, a U.S. firm said it worked alongside law enforcement to recover more than $30 million worth of cryptocurrency that North Korean hackers stole earlier this year.

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Sanctions over alleged cyberattack

The Treasury Department sanctioned Iran’s intelligence ministry and its top intelligence official on Friday in response to a cyberattack the country allegedly launched on Albania in July.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and its minister of intelligence as engaging in cyber-enabled activities against the United States and its allies.

The announcement comes two days after the White House National Security Council condemned Iran for conducting an “unprecedented” cyberattack that targeted Albanian government digital services and websites on July 15.

  • Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a statement on Wednesday that an investigation concluded Iran was responsible for recruiting four groups that conducted the attack. He said Albania immediately cut diplomatic relations with Iran and ordered staff at the Iranian Embassy in Albania to leave the country.  

  • Albania is a U.S. ally as a member of NATO.

“We will not tolerate Iran’s increasingly aggressive cyber activities targeting the United States or our allies and partners,” Brian Nelson, the under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the release.

Read more here.

Cryptocurrency recovered from hackers

A U.S. firm announced on Thursday that it worked alongside law enforcement to recover more than $30 million worth of cryptocurrency that North Korean hackers stole earlier this year.

Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis said the seized funds represent about 10 percent of the current value of the stolen cryptocurrency, which totaled about $620 million at the time it was stolen in March.

“This marks the first time ever that cryptocurrency stolen by a North Korean hacking group has been seized, and we’re confident it won’t be the last,” the firm said in a statement.

Lazarus Group, a cybercrime organization associated with the North Korean government, stole the funds from players of the virtual pay-to-play game Axie Infinity. In the game, players use blockchain technology to purchase digital monsters, which are nonfungible tokens (NFT), and battle them against others.

Read more here.

TWITTER OUTAGES REPORTED AFTER QUEEN’S DEATH

Twitter users across the country reported outages on the platform on Thursday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The website Downdetector, which notes when various websites are experiencing issues, documented more than 2,600 reports of outages around 1:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, just as the royal family announced the queen’s death.

  • Downdetector’s website states that it only reports an incident when the number of outages is significantly higher than the normal volume for that time of the day.  

  • More than 80 percent of the reports Downdetector received were for Twitter’s app, while about 10 percent were for its website.  

  • The number of reported outages quickly dropped to about 250 or less half an hour after the surge.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The newest trade framework will face a very wary public

Notable links from around the web:

Cyberattacks against U.S. hospitals mean higher mortality rates, study finds (NBC News / Kevin Collier)

Google Is Begging Apple to Make Life Better for Green Bubbles (The Verge / Samantha Cole)

⛳ Lighter click: Our favorite golfer

One more thing: Netflix pauses ‘The Crown’

Netflix paused filming for “The Crown,” the historical drama TV series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, to honor her death.

“As a mark of respect, filming on The Crown was suspended today,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Hill on Friday. “Filming will also be suspended on the day of Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral.”

The show’s writer, Peter Morgan, sent out an email after the announcement of the queen’s death on Thursday that the show will likely pause its filming.

“The Crown is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect,” Morgan wrote in the message seen by Deadline.

He added: “I expect we will stop filming out of respect too.”

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week.

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