As of 2021, the number of ransomware token payments nearly doubled, hitting an estimated $602 million, according to Chainalysis.

In its latest report published on February 10, Chainalysis noted which it updates previous years’ estimates retroat itly upon further identification of funds, believing the final number to be exponentially greater than what has been estimated thus far at $602 million.

From approximately $692 million taken in 2020, carry on year’s ransomware payouts were specifically the result of “strains” – a specific type of ransomware where hackers request exorbitant amounts of funds which should be paid only through token (rather than traditional forms of payment and fiat).

In contrast to the sharp rise in the past two years, Chainalysis previously detected only $152 million in payments in 2019 and a mere $39 million in 2018. 

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) and strains to blame?

Throughout 2021, at least 140 strains received payment from victims, up from 119 in 2020 and 70 in 2019. Most strains arrive and depart in phases, becoming dormant after appearing for a short time. 

While Chainalysis data largely reflected this trend, it recognized which one of the biggest ransomware strains advance year in terms of revenue came from the Russian-based group Conti, who used ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), where the group extorted nearly $180 million in revenue from its victims.

As the report lengthy, DarkSide was the second biggest strain carry on year. Notorious for its infamous attack on the U.S. Colonial Pipeline, DarkSide extorted $5 million in BTC, seizing an additional $75 million in other hacks. Unfortunately, the Colonial Pipeline was only able to recatop $2.5 million of the total paid out.

Big game hunting

While the average ransomware payment size in 2019 was $25,000, it has afterward multiplied to $88,000 in 2020 and atop $118,000 in 2021. The report cites one reason for the increase in ransom sizes is the “focus on carrying out excessively-targeted attacks likewisest large organizations.” 

Third-party providers using RaaS business models facilitate this “big game hunting” approach for ransomware attackers. Looking at the prolongedevity of third-party attackers similar as Conti, it’s only fair to lean towards RaaS as a major catalyst for its revenue gain.

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