According to the CIA’s director, the agency is now working on “several distinct initiatives” including cryptography.
Building crypto expertise was “a significant goal” for the CIA, according to William Burns, who planned to put “resources and attention” to it.
William Burns, the current head of the Central Intelligence Agency, claimed his predecessor at the government agency started operations aimed at gathering cryptocurrency intelligence.
Burns said the CIA was aiming to include knowledge in cryptocurrencies and blockchain to its team of intelligence analysts, in addition to engaging with industry experts, when asked about crypto at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit on Monday. Given what he has seen in ransomware assaults, he believes the crypto space’s difficulties “may have a significant impact” on the US.
“My predecessor had initiated this,” Burns stated, referring to former acting CIA Director David Cohen’s conduct. “[They] had set in motion several various programs focused on cryptocurrency, including looking at second-and third-order effects and collaborating with our friends in other sections of the US government to offer reliable intelligence on what we’re seeing.”
He went on to say that developing such crypto expertise was “a critical goal” for the Agency, to which he planned to dedicate “resources and attention.” The CIA director did not provide specifics on the Agency’s strategy for combating cyberattacks but hinted that it will attempt to “get at the financial networks” of criminal organizations that hold digital currencies for ransom.
Burns, who took over as director in March, has seen hackers demand millions in cryptocurrency following an attack on the Colonial Pipeline system in May, but also a US government task team responded by retrieving the majority of the assets. “Blockchain analysis is a highly powerful crime-fighting and information gathering tool,” according to Michael Morrell, a former acting CIA director from 2012 to 2013, who believes it is underutilized by law enforcement organizations.
Burns will most likely serve at the CIA at the discretion of US President Joe Biden because there is no fixed term for a CIA director. Biden has yet to name his nominees to fill three vacancies on the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors as of this writing.