Last year, ransomware stole more than $1 billion in virtual space.
The relevant information was published on Wednesday, February 7, by the blockchain analytical company Chainalysis Inc. The recorded amount is the largest in the entire history of observations.
Cybercriminals, using ransomware, block access to data or files of victims. These actions are performed until the moment when hackers receive a certain amount of money to stop the blocking. In most cases, cybercriminals receive funds from their victims in cryptocurrency.
Last year, the amount of money stolen in the virtual space almost doubled compared to the figure for 2022. This result of illegal activity in the digital dimension of the criminal world indicates a threatening trend. In the absence of counteraction measures or the insufficiency of such efforts, hackers’ profits will increase.
The financial indicator of cybercrime for 2023 exceeds previous records. Hackers became more active during the coronavirus pandemic. This is because, during a difficult sanitary and epidemiological situation, people began to make purchases on digital commercial platforms more often. Moreover, due to the pandemic, some other types of activity have also moved to the virtual environment.
Chainalysis data shows that in 2022, ransomware hackers caused $567 million in financial damage to their victims.
There is also currently such a dangerous trend as the commercialization of ransomware. This means that cybercriminals are selling malicious software to others. Against the background of the corresponding trend, the coverage area of ransomware has been scaled.
Jackie Burns Koven, head of cyber threat analysis at Chainalysis, says that the professionalization of crime has caused an increase in the number of participants in the community of money thieves in the virtual space.
Currently, there is an increase in the interest of cybercriminals in big game hunting tactics. This method means a decrease in the number of attacks, but an increase in illegal revenue. Cybercriminals carry out fewer attacks, receiving large payments each time. In some cases, hackers can extort $1 million from a victim.
In one extreme example, the Cl0p ransomware gang collected over $100 million in ransom payments. In this case, the attack was directed at the popular MOVEit file transfer app. The user base of this digital product includes more than a thousand organizations around the world. Among the known victims of the hack are Shell oil and gas company, US federal government agencies, and British Airways.
The problem with cybercrime is that a person can become a victim of hackers not only when performing a certain action on digital platforms. In some cases, unauthorized access to personal devices is carried out. Hackers can blackmail victims by placing confidential information obtained as a result of unauthorized access in the public space. In this case, awareness is of particular importance. A search query such as How to know if my camera is hacked allows the person to find out about signs of unauthorized access to the device. This information will protect the user from blackmail. It is worth noting that threats in cyberspace are likely to become more complex, but countermeasures will also be developed.