Chainalysis Says Ransomware Payments In 2022 Declined
According to a new report from Chainalysis, there has been a 40.58% decline in ransomware payments. The blockchain analysis firm released the said report on Thursday.
It revealed that the total amount of money extorted by ransomware attackers in 2022 stood at $456.8 million, which was a decline from $765.6 million a year earlier.
However, Chainalysis was quick to assert that this did not indicate there was a drop in the number of ransomware attacks.
Even though the reduction in payments did imply that there was a decline in the number of attacks, Chainalysis said that most of it were because of the refusal of victim organizations to pay the attackers.
The roundup for 2022 comes after the end-of-year reporting of Chainalysis on the biggest crypto hacks that occurred in the previous year.
The crypto industry has been plagued with ransomware attacks for a long time in which cybercriminals demand payment in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Regulators often use them as a cudgel to urge tougher regulations for the crypto industry or even outright bans on digital assets.
The Biden Administration had said in 2021 that it would step up its efforts against fighting cybercriminals and would prioritize combating ransomware attacks.
This included the administration keeping track of crypto transactions.
Ransomware attacks usually involve software called ransomware that locks a computer and asks for a ransom in order to restore access.
Digital extortion is often included, as cybercriminals threaten to release sensitive pictures and data from the locked machines in case the ransom is not paid.
While a ransomware attack can target any computer with an internet connection, the primary attack vector is usually phishing attacks.
Chainalysis disclosed that the funds stolen via ransomware attacks in 2022 had been laundered through gambling websites, centralized exchanges, or coin mixers.
It said that in 2021, 39.3% of the ransomware funds had been laundered through mainstream crypto exchanges, but this had increased in 2022 to 48.3%.
There had also been an increase in the use of coin mixers to 15.0% from 11.6%, but a decline in the use of high-risk exchanges to 6.7% from 10.9%.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned Tornado Cash in August 2022, which is an Ethereum mixing service, which means that it was banned in the US.
According to the agency, it had done so because the mixing service had been used for money laundering.
Chainalysis said that there was a possibility that the true total could be higher because ransomware attackers also control crypto addresses that may not have been identified as yet.
However, it said that the trend was quite clear i.e. there was a fall in ransomware payments, if not the number of attacks.
While Bitcoin is mostly demanded in ransomware attacks by cybercriminals, a report from cybersecurity company Kapersky showed that privacy coins like ZCash and Monero are also becoming popular.
This is primarily because of the underlying technology of these cryptocurrencies that give cybercriminals access to privacy features lacking in Bitcoin.