Chainalysis, a blockchain data analytical company, has said that at least $81 million has been stolen in crypto in 2021 owing to ransomware attacks. The attack led to $406 million crypto theft in 2020.
The firm noted that ransomware attackers are growing more dangerous, more sophisticated, and sharply more profitable in extracting crypto from their victims. The analytical firm notes that the number may likely rise as new criminal activities are still being uncovered.
Chainalysis said this in a blog post on Friday in a fraction of a forthcoming report on the state of ransomware in 2021. They are yet to announce when the entire report would be dropped. A practical reference to the chainalysis claim is the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, an American oil pipeline system.
The ransomware attack on the system resulted in a major gas shortage across the Southeastern US; the fuel provider reportedly paid out nearly $5 million in Bitcoin to a Russian criminal enterprise called DarkSide.
The analytical firm, in its reports, notes that the “Russian-affiliated cybercriminals so far this year have been the biggest financial beneficiaries of cryptocurrency-based crime.” Russia-linked strains have taken in 92% of this year’s ransomware proceeds, compared to 86% last year.
Ransomware payouts are also steadily growing. Victims paid an average of $54,000 in Q1, compared to $46,000 in Q4 2020 and just $12,000 on average in Q4 2019. There tends to be at least one $10 million ransom paid a quarter, but groups have demanded as much as $50 million.
Chainalysis, apart from providing analytical data about happenings in the crypto space, the firm also works with government agencies to help track down crypto criminals.
US authorities and Chainalysis
In 2020, the US Air Force agreed to a third contract with Chainalysis for crypto-related analytics.
The force partnered with the company to use its blockchain analytics services for largely unspecified reasons. According to the contract, they paid chainaysis about $779,740 for its service, which is dated May 19, 2020. Combined, the Air Force has now spent $900,000 on Chainalysis’s analytics services.