Crypto Ransom Attack Payments Hit Record $1 Billion in 2023: Chainalysis

Losses stemming from other crypto-related crimes such as scamming and hacking fell in 2023.

Crypto Ransom Attack Payments Hit Record $1 Billion in 2023: Chainalysis

Photo Credit: Reuters

Bitcoin has jumped 60 percent since the end of September

Highlights
  • Crypto-related ransom attack payments amounted to $567 million in 2022
  • Scammers targeting institutions such as hospitals, schools and government
  • A group of digital extortionists named "cl0p" made nearly $100 million
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Payments from crypto-related ransom attacks nearly doubled to a record $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,304 crore) in 2023, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said on Wednesday.

Scammers targeting institutions such as hospitals, schools and government offices for ransom pocketed $1.1 billion (roughly Rs. 9,133 crore) last year, compared with $567 million (roughly Rs. 4,708 crore) in 2022.

However, losses stemming from other crypto-related crimes such as scamming and hacking fell in 2023, Chainalysis said.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, has jumped 60 percent since the end of September to $43,134 (roughly Rs. 35,81,500) on enthusiasm about a new US Bitcoin ETF and on signs central banks around the world will begin trimming interest rates.

"An increasing number of new players were attracted by the potential for high profits and lower barriers to entry," Chainalysis said.

"Big game hunting" has become the dominant strategy over the last few years, with a dominant share of all ransom revenue volume made up of payments of $1 million (roughly Rs. 8.3 crore) or more, Chainalysis added.

A group of digital extortionists named "cl0p", which subverted a file sharing software MOVEit, made nearly $100 million (roughly Rs. 830 crore) in ransom payments, the analytics company said.

Hundred of organizations, including government departments, UK's telecom regulator and energy giant Shell, have reported cybersecurity breaches involving the MOVEit software tool, which is typically used to transfer large amounts of often sensitive data, including pension information and social security numbers.

A report in November showed that cybercrime group "Black Basta" had extorted at least $107 million in bitcoin, with much of the laundered ransom payments making their way to the sanctioned Russian cryptocurrency exchange Garantex.

Cryptocurrency theft via cyberheists and ransomware attacks is also a significant source of funding for North Korea, according to UN reports.

Chainalysis' figures undervalue crypto's role in all crime as it only tracks cryptocurrency sent to wallet addresses identified as illicit. It does not include payments for non-crypto-related crime such as crypto used in drug trafficking deals.

© Thomson Reuters 2024


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