Chainalysis, a blockchain data company, has found that the value stolen by crypto ransomware attacks has steadily increased from 2020 to 2021 and is still unexplained.
Follow preview The company’s Crypto Crime Report 2022 identified ransomware payments of $602 million for 2021, compared to $692 million for 2020. However, they believe the 2021 number is “underestimated” because it was originally published in the Year 2020 has been revised, with an estimated increase of almost 50%. .
“Anecdotal evidence, coupled with the fact that revenue from ransomware in the first half of 2021 exceeded that of the first half of 2020, suggests that 2021 will ultimately be an even bigger year for ransomware.”
Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to computer files until the attacker’s request is met. Hackers often charge hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and pay in crypto so they don’t have to go through traditional payment channels.
There are different versions or types of ransomware known as “strains”.
“Ransomware isn’t just dangerous. It’s always changing too. Here’s the current state of ransomware and how law enforcement and security forces are fighting it,” Chainalysis said. tweet.
Notorious Russian hacking group Conti easily became the largest ransomware strain in terms of revenue over the past year, according to the research firm. Using a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model, Conti extorted more than $180 million from victims.
DarkSide is also a prominent name. It was this strain that caused the infamous attack on leading US fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline, leading to fuel shortages in some areas. The company was then forced to hand over $5 million worth of Bitcoin to the hackers. Over the year, DarkSide has raised at least $75 million from similar hacks.
Because cryptocurrency payments are peer-to-peer, they continue to be abused by hackers to avoid interruptions from third-party intermediaries. While in traditional finance, banks and payment providers not only reverse the criminal transaction but also easily identify the offending users and ban them from the platform.
However, the benefits do not make Bitcoin a criminal haven. In fact, thanks to Bitcoin’s public blockchain, the US Department of Justice was able to track and seize almost half of the money DarkSide stole from Pipeline. Because of this, some ransomware attackers choose to use privacy coins like XMR to facilitate transactions.
The number of active tribes in 2021 has risen to 140, up from 119 in 2020 and just 79 in 2019. The activity of most of these tribes “comes and goes in waves,” as chain analysis identified Conti as the only tribe that remains active all year round .
Along with the number of strains, the average size of ransomware payments in 2021 is also increasing from just $88,000 in 2020 to $118,000.
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