According to Chainalysis, the increase in payments size is due to the increasing sophistication of ransomware groups. Attacks have become more precise & efficient as hackers use 3rd-party tools to play a “big game” strategy to make bigger attacks on bigger ones.
In January 2022, Chainalysis identified more than $692 million in ransomware payments since 2020, double the previous estimate from the same period a year ago. For 2021, Chainalysis identified more than $602 million of ransomware payments, although this is likely an underestimate.
Ransomware criminals demanded more money from their targets. Acc. to Chainalysis, the average size of ransomware payments increased from $25,000 – $118,000 in cryptocurrency between 2019 & 2022.
Ransomware operators in 2021 have used 3rd-party tools like proxy services, email attacks, stolen data like passwords & IDs, and malware more than ever before. Of the funds sent by ransomware operators, 16% was spent on tools & services to enable more effective attacks, up from 6% in 2020.
More single ransomware strains were also active last year than any other year, with at least 140 in 2021 compared to 119 the year before.
It named Conti, a ransomware as a-service operation believed to be based in Russia, as top ransomware gangs of 2021. It extorted “at least $180 million from victims.” , according to the Chainalysis report. Darkside, another gang, ranked second for funds extorted from victims.
A previous Chainalysis report found that laundering increased by 30% in 2021, and the Cybercrooks organization laundered $8.6 billion worth of dirty cryptocurrency. Around $33 billion worth of cryptocurrencies have been laundered since 2017, mostly through centralized exchanges.