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Ransomware Wave Reaches New Heights: Cybercriminals Pocket Record $1.1 Billion in Cryptocurrencies


Ransomware
Cybercriminals Pocket Record $1.1 Billion in Cryptocurrencies

The cyberspace underworld is experiencing a dizzying rise in its criminal profitability. Last year, cryptocurrency ransomware payments reached an all-time high, totaling $1.1 billion. This alarming figure represents almost double that recorded in 2022, as revealed by data from the renowned blockchain data analysis company, Chainalysis, in its latest report released this Wednesday (7).


Exponential Growth and Criminal Strategies


Ransomware, a type of malicious software capable of infecting and encrypting data on computers, has become a profitable weapon in the hands of cybercriminals. The release of this data generally only occurs upon payment, often in crypto assets. The Chainalysis report highlights that criminals have targeted their attacks at large targets, capable of shelling out considerable sums. A notorious example is the second largest rescue in Bitcoin (BTC) in history, carried out by the Brazilian multinational JBS, victim of this type of attack.


Alert from the Head of Threat Intelligence

Cybernetics


Jackie Koven, head of Cyber Threat Intelligence at Chainalysis, emphasized that last year's record value reveals that these cyber attacks represent an ever-growing threat. Koven highlights the urgent need for a collaborative approach between governments, law enforcement agencies, technology providers and victim organizations. “Due to the globally distributed nature of these attacks, a concerted effort is needed to report and address these actions transparently,” says Koven.


Ransomware as a Service (RaaS): The Profitable Business Model


The report also highlights the growing role of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) in the criminal ecosystem. In this business model, developers sell their malicious software to other hackers, receiving a percentage of the profits generated by the attacks. This approach has contributed significantly to the expansion of cybercrime.


Money Laundering: The Dark Trail of Cryptocurrencies


Chainalysis, in addition to tracking payments, uncovered how criminals launder their earnings obtained through cryptocurrencies. Surprisingly, gaming services, blockchain bridges, and sanctioned entities saw the highest levels of fund movement. Centralized exchanges also received these payments, albeit on a smaller scale. Koven points to a shift in criminal tactics away from centralized exchanges and mixers in favor of more discreet methods in response to robust anti-money laundering and customer verification policies.


Conclusion


The wave of ransomware has reached alarming levels, requiring a coordinated response from multiple stakeholders. The global interconnectedness of these attacks underscores the importance of a unified approach to confronting this growing threat. As cybercriminals adapt their strategies, the global cybersecurity community must be prepared for effective innovation and collaboration in the search for robust solutions.

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