The CIA may not have invented Bitcoin as conspiracy theories claim, but it does run several cryptocurrency projects, director William Burns reveals.
CIA keeps a close eye on cryptocurrencies
There are several conspiracy theories on Reddit, including one claiming that the CIA invented Bitcoin. That is certainly not true, but now it appears that the CIA is involved in cryptocurrency projects.
William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, admitted yesterday that the CIA has several projects running to monitor cryptocurrencies.
He was asked whether the intelligence agency was able to limit ransomware attacks from abroad. Burns said his predecessor had “started a number of different projects focused on cryptocurrency”. In addition, there is open communication between other parts of the US government and all information is shared.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to shut down a computer or network until payment is received. Often this is in the form of Bitcoin or privacy currency Monero. There have been attacks on a major oil pipeline and meat processing plants earlier this year. It has also shut down the IT infrastructure of several companies. The Biden administration labeled ransomware as a “priority” in June and said it would use cryptocurrency tracking to address it.
Burns did not clarify which pastor he was referring to. In the past five years alone, there have been five different predecessors. However, the most likely reference is to his immediate predecessor, David Cohen.
President Biden chose Cohen as acting director from January to March. Cohen comes from the Treasury Department which oversaw the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Both have warned companies against facilitating ransomware payments. In other words, he is the one who could provide the CIA with information about cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrencies as a means against crime
Michael Morell served as acting director twice under President Obama. He also sees the value of Bitcoin for the CIA.
Earlier this year, Morell called blockchain technology a “blessing for surveillance” in a report by the Crypto Council for Innovation. The report defended the cryptocurrency against claims that its best use case is for criminal enterprises. Instead, the public nature of transactions makes it an “underused forensic tool for governments to identify illegal activity.”
Burns was vague about what exactly the CIA does. He said the following about it:
“One of the ways to catch and deter ransomware attacks is to get to the financial networks that so many of those criminal networks use. That is also good for the digital currency issue.”