- The role of the US Secret Service, whose purpose extends from protecting the US President Trump to protecting the US financial systems, has had to morph to tackle more sophisticated cybercrimes.
- There is, however, a shared sentiment that cryptocurrencies are just a mere proponent of crime.
Launched on July 5th, 1865, the Secret Service’s role has evolved over the years. Initially attached to the Treasury, their primary purpose has been ensuring the safety of the US commander in chief alongside curtailing counterfeiting of the US currency.
However, after the 9/11 tragedy, the Secret Service was moved to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The purview of the service now extends to the investigation of financial crimes that have evolved significantly due to emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies. However, there have been talks recently about possibly reuniting the Secret Service with the treasury.
Increased Cybercrimes during a global pandemic
Secret Service cyber policy advisor Jonah Force Hill has offered insight on how their role has been modernized, especially with ongoing talks around the development of the digital dollar. He also reports a spike in financial crimes against US citizens during this COVID-19 time with the FBI reporting a 75% increase in day to day cybercrimes in a June US house meeting. This was collaborated by statistics offered by VMware Cybersec Strategy lead, Tom Kellermann, indicating a large 900% bump in ransomware attacks in the first two quarters of 2020.
Despite cybercriminals demanding for crypto for ransomware, he admits that crypto is not the issue but just a small element of the crime. He highlights that cryptocurrencies will come under the scrutiny of the Secret Service if they undermine the integrity of financial and remittance systems. Money laundering and fraud use cases are also warranting intervention from the Secret Service.
There was mention of crime as a service model where cybercriminals offer customized services and data at a fee. This could include easily exploitable vulnerabilities in the systems, account login credentials, identities, and infrastructure, such as disk space for storage. This type of model enables the cybercriminals to gang up together to orchestrate a crime, drawing similarities with a bank heist crew where each member has a specific skill set.