According to the US Treasurys Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (via The Record), the ransomware industry is growing rapidly and could bring in billions of dollars for its top players. This report examined the rapid rise in ransomware payments during the first half 2021. It looked at suspicious activity reports from banks and was able to calculate how much hacking groups were making through analysis of blockchain transactions linked to their wallets.
Reports of ransomware-related transactions involving ransomware totaled $590 million between January 2021 and June 2021, according to the report. The most alarming statistic in the report is the fact that Bitcoin has been accessed by the top 10 hacking organizations for approximately $5.2 billion over the last three years.
Although it is a staggering figure, it is likely to be incomplete. FinCEN found wallets that were linked to ransomware payments to the top 10, then analysed their outgoing transactions. The money is likely to be laundered though it's almost impossible to determine if it was ransomware. Hackers could have additional crypto in their wallets that they have not yet touched. They could also have it in other currencies. The analysis only included Bitcoin and indicated an increase in hackers asking to purchase Monero.
Chainalysis' research director, said that in June 2020 was being called the year of ransomware. He wondered if 2021 would get the same title. FinCEN estimates that $200 million more was paid out in 2021's first half than in 2020. According to FinCEN, hackers may make more money from ransomware this decade than in the past decade if trends continue.
Ransomware is expected to boom in 2021. We have seen hackers extort large tech companies, pipes, hospitals, insurers, and other companies. This report shows that hackers can use ransoms to fund their attempts at new targets. The success rate of a handful of groups is impressive. This vicious cycle has been a problem for the government, however. The Department of Justice has set up a team that will pursue criminal-related exchanges, such as ransomware demands. It will have to overcome enormous incentives to keep its head above the rest with billions at stake.