June 30, 2021
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), born in 1908, was created to address fast moving technological developments of the day. That same year Henry Ford's Model T began rolling off assembly lines making automobiles affordable to the masses and attractive to illicit actors who could drive cross country on violent crime sprees -- think Bonnie and Clyde. Indeed, it was cross-border technology that called for a national law enforcement entity with the tools and training necessary to meet a new breed of borderless criminal.
While the technology has changed over the years, the Bureau's mission has stayed the same: "to identify, disrupt and dismantle existing and emerging criminal enterprises whose activities affect the United States." Today, George "Machine Gun" Kelly has been replaced by ransomware-as-a-service providers, darknet market administrators, cybercriminals, weapons proliferators and other modern threat actors. Many of these criminals have gone online in order to move funds at the speed of the internet, elude law enforcement, and obfuscate transactions. This month, a New York Times headline read, "Bitcoin and Encryption: A Race Between Criminals and the F.B.I.," and The Wall Street Journal sounded, "FBI Director Compares Ransomware Challenge to 9/11." As illicit actors and the FBI move to a digital battlefield, cryptocurrency, the internet of money, poses both unique risks and unique capabilities. TRM Talks to the FBI about how the Bureau is meeting these emerging threats and building cases in the age of crypto.