Crypto Ransom Attack Payments Hit Record $1 Billion in 2023
Record Payments from Crypto Ransom Attacks
Payments from crypto-related ransom attacks nearly doubled to a record $1 billion in 2023, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. Scammers targeting institutions such as hospitals, schools, and government offices for ransom pocketed $1.1 billion last year, compared with $567 million in 2022.
Decrease in Losses from Other Crypto-Related Crimes
However, losses stemming from other crypto-related crimes such as scamming and hacking fell in 2023, as reported by Chainalysis.
Rise of Bitcoin and New Players
The largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has jumped 60% since the end of September to $43,134 on enthusiasm about a new U.S. bitcoin ETF and signs that 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.
Dominant Strategy in Ransom Revenue
“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 or more, Chainalysis added.
Digital Extortionists and Cybersecurity Breaches
A group of digital extortionists named “cl0p” made nearly $100 million in ransom payments by subverting a file-sharing software MOVEit, according to the analytics company. Hundreds of organizations, including government departments, UK’s telecom regulator, and energy giant Shell, have reported cybersecurity breaches involving the MOVEit software tool.
Cryptocurrency Theft and North Korea’s Funding
Cryptocurrency theft via cyberheists and ransomware attacks is 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.