The US Treasury said on Tuesday it would impose sanctions on Hydra, a “dark web” marketplace, and Garantex, a virtual currency exchange, both of which operate largely out of Russia.
Hydra is the largest marketplace on the dark web by revenues and is popular among cyber criminals seeking hacking tools. It is also a popular marketplace for stolen data and drugs.
The Treasury said both Hydra and Garantex were being used by ransomware criminals to launder millions of dollars of proceeds from crimes.
Western experts have warned of a surge in Russian cyber crime as sanctions crimp the legitimate economy.
“The global threat of cyber crime and ransomware that originates in Russia, and the ability of criminal leaders to operate there with impunity, is deeply concerning to the US,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
“Our actions send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the dark net or [its] forums, and you cannot hide in Russia or anywhere else in the world.”
Separately, the US is set to announce a ban on new investment in Russia while increasing sanctions on the country’s financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and government officials.
“These measures will degrade key instruments of Russian state power, impose acute and immediate economic harm on Russia, and hold accountable the Russian kleptocracy that funds and supports Putin’s war,” a US official told the Financial Times.
- George Russell
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