In brief

  • CIA Director William Burns was asked about the CIA’s involvement in combating ransomware.
  • He said his predecessor started several “different projects focused on cryptocurrency.”

Wade into Reddit and you’ll discover conspiracy theories claiming that Tom Hanks is a pedophilia kingpin, Bill Gates inserted microchips into coronavirus vaccines, and the CIA invented Bitcoin

Well, as it turns out, the CIA is involved in cryptocurrency after all—even if it didn’t invent Bitcoin.

During the Wall Street Journal‘s CEO Summit yesterday, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns admitted that the CIA has multiple projects to keep track of cryptocurrencies.

Responding to a question about whether the intelligence agency was able to constrain ransomware attacks emanating from abroad, Burns said his predecessor “had set in motion a number of different projects focused on cryptocurrency and trying to look at second- and third-order consequences as well and helping with our colleagues in other parts of the U.S. government to provide solid intelligence on what we’re seeing.”

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to shut down a computer or network until payment is received, often in Bitcoin or privacy coin Monero. Attacks this year have shut down a major oil pipeline, meat processing plants, and businesses’ IT infrastructure. The Biden administration in June labelled ransomware a “priority” and said it would use cryptocurrency tracking to address it.

Burns didn’t clarify which predecessor he was referring to. Five other people have led the agency—two…

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