Blockchain analytics company, Chainalysis, Inc., has released a new report which discusses a massive surge in cybercrime over the past two years resulting in criminals netting $1.3 billion in ransom payments. Chainalysis’s report indicates that it expects ransom payments to exceed the $692 million paid in 2020. “There is a slight time lag in ransomware data, so we expect when these numbers get updated in a few months, 2021 will have higher numbers than 2020,” said Kim Grauer, Head of Research at Chainalysis. “The $600 million, while extremely large, is still the absolute floor in ransomware payments made with the real number likely much higher.”
The Russia-based cybercrime group, Conti, extorted at least $180 million from its hacking victims which was the largest ransomware strain by revenue in 2021. Not only was Conti the one strain that remained consistently active for all of 2021, its share of all ransomware revenue grew throughout the year according to researchers. The Chainalysis report cautions that Conti’s ransomware strain has a degree of “staying power.”
A joint alert was issued by the U.S., the U.K. and Australia warning of an overall increase in global threats from ransomware, as hackers are now using advanced techniques. The incidents with Colonial Pipeline and other high-profile critical infrastructure providers have the Biden Administration working to strengthen initiatives to bolster cyber defenses for both the public and private sectors.
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