A blockchain research firm, Chainalysis, revealed crypto-ransomware attacks of 2021 racked up $602 million in Bitcoin and other currencies, and that figure could be even higher. In addition, the report pronounced a Russian-based hacker group named Conti as the most active and largest group of hackers by revenue last year.
The analysis firm expressed that they have counted for all of it yet, and the figure of stolen money may be even more extensive, rising as high as $1 billion.
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In a Chainalysis preview report of 2022, the firm has confirmed the rapid growth in ransomware crimes. It explained that its initial estimate (that’s still an underestimate) of $350 million has jumped to $692 million.
In fact, despite these numbers, anecdotal evidence, plus the fact that ransomware revenue in the first half of 2021 exceeded that of the first half of 2020, suggests to us that 2021 will eventually be revealed to have been an even bigger year for ransomware.
The firm explained that ransomware attacks, pretty much like computer viruses, are dangerous and ever-changing too, so they can easily avoid law enforcement and updated security measures in a system.
Ransomware Attacks: 2020 VS 2021
Similarly, the average payout of ransomware rose to $118,000 in 2021, up 26% compared to its previous $88,000 in 2020. The most significant cause behind the higher increase of these numbers per the Chainalysis is a ‘big game hunting strategy. Ransomware strains have been employed in it increasingly to target big corporations for ransomware.
The number of most active strains in 2021 also has broken all its previous records with 140 groups that received cryptocurrencies. It is up 21 from 2020’s figure and 61 from 2019.
Conti Group Becomes The Biggest Strain Of 2021’s Ransomware Attacks
The recorded ransomware payments of 2019 stand at $152 million and only $39 million in 2018. In contrast, the last year’s figure has increased dramatically. As a result, the Russian-based hacker group ‘Conti’ is the biggest strain by revenue, per the Chainalysis.
Last year, the Russia-based hacker group Conti became one of the ransomware’s most active and profitable strains.
The Conti Group has extorted nearly $200 million from their victims in Bitcoin and Monero. The group uses the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model as the key and believes in sharing its program with affiliates to exchange a fee.
Another ransomware strain named ‘DarkSide’ who previously marked the historic attack on U.S Colonial Pipeline, which resulted in petroleum shortage, came in second to Conti. DarkSide asked the company to pay them $5 million in Bitcoin at the hack time. Additionally, it nearly fetched over $75 million through the course of a year in similar hacks.
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Chainalysis found Conti to be the only active strain throughout this past year. At the same time, most others “Wavered in and out like a wave going up then down.”
Featured image by Pixabay and chart from Tradingview.com