Ransomware payments reached $1 billion in 2023

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In the year 2023 alone, hackers behind the rampant spread of ransomware amassed a staggering $1 billion in ransom payments, as disclosed by a comprehensive study conducted by blockchain research firm Chainalysis. This alarming figure, equivalent to the annual budget of several small Asian nations, marks a significant spike compared to previous years, doubling from $500 million in 2022. Experts warn that if law enforcement agencies and governments fail to implement effective measures, this amount could triple or even quadruple by 2026, as the proliferation of file-encrypting malware continues unabated with increasingly sophisticated tactics.

Chainalysis’s Crypto Crime Report 2024 highlighted a notable surge in ransomware payments following the 2023 MoveIT data breach, which saw major multinational corporations such as BBC and British Airways fall victim to the clop ransomware gang, believed to be backed by actors in Russia. According to insights shared by Recorded Future, a substantial portion of the payments can be attributed to the 639 officially reported ransomware victims, with half of them falling prey to cyber-attacks exploiting vulnerabilities in the MoveIT file transfer software.

The pressing question arises: Can banning crypto payments mitigate the ransomware epidemic? While imposing a ban could potentially restrict the flow of funds to criminal enterprises, the nature of cryptocurrency, being decentralized and largely untraceable, renders it difficult for governments to enforce such measures universally.

Instead, organizations are advised to prioritize robust data backup and application recovery systems to minimize downtime in the event of an attack. Furthermore, in cases of double and triple extortion ransomware tactics, prompt reporting to law enforcement becomes crucial, with hopes of apprehending the perpetrators before they can leverage their infrastructure and ensure the permanent deletion of stolen data from their servers.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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