Crypto-ransomware payments could reach $ 1 billion in 2021

Crypto-ransomware payments could reach $ 1 billion in 2021 - Joe Biden cryptocurrency 1Illicit activity in the cryptocurrency industry has continued to grow, raising concerns about money laundering and the use of Bitcoin (find out how buy Bitcoins legitimately) and other cryptocurrencies to fund illegal activities that could include terrorism.

Just last week, the news hit the wires of North Korea funding its missile program with stolen crypto. UN researchers reported that hackers stole more than $ 50 million in digital assets between 2020 and mid-2021.

According to Chainalysis, North Korea illegally amassed more than $ 400 million worth of digital assets last year. Cybercriminals have mainly targeted investment firms and centralized exchanges. Tactics included phishing baits, code exploits, malware and the hijacking of funds from "hot" wallets.

Ransomware continues to rise in 2021

This week, Chainalysis reported that ransomware payments reached $ 692 million in 2020, which was an upward revision from an estimate of $ 350 million. In 2019, ransomware payments stood at $ 152 million and only $ 39 million in 2018.

For 2021, Chainalysis has currently tracked $ 602m in ransomware payments. Based on the 2020 estimate and the latest numbers, the 2021 figure is likely to break the $ 1 billion barrier. While North Korea has been particularly active in illegally obtaining cryptocurrencies, Russia appears to be in the lead in 2021. Conti, based in Russia, illegally amassed at least $ 180 million from ransomware victims in 2021. by far the biggest haul, with DarkSide coming in a distant second, under $ 100 million.

In May 2021, the US Colonial Pipeline was the victim of a DarkSide ransomware cyberattack. Colonial Pipeline, with the guidance of the FBI, paid the ransom of 75 Bitcoins (BTC). The following month, however, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that it had recovered 63,7 BTC of the ransom payment. Such was the impact of the cyberattack that Joe Biden was forced to declare a state of emergency.

Biden also placed DarkSide in Russia, saying Russian authorities had some responsibility in dealing with it.

The White House, cryptocurrencies and national security

This week's Chainalysis report will give governments and regulators one more reason to provide a global regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.

In late January, the White House announced the imminent release of an executive order on cryptocurrencies. The order will task agencies with crypto regulation as a matter of national security. Not only by covering crypto, but also stablecoins and NFTs, agencies will need to work with regulators around the world. Some see the order as a move towards a blue print for a global cryptocurrency regulatory framework.

Biden's reference to national security is critical, and when you consider the sums involved in cyberattacks and where the funds go, there is reason to start introducing the right crypto infrastructure to begin reducing cyberattacks.

As governments try to tackle cybercrime, cybercriminals have also become more elusive, however. According to the Chainalysis report, more than 140 strains of ransomware received payments from victims in 2021. This was up from 119 in 2020 and just 79 in 2019. The upward trend comes as law enforcement becomes more sophisticated . In 2021, the recovery of 63,7 of the 75 BTC loot from the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack was a big win for US law enforcement. Biden will likely want to push for more international cooperation to dent the money flow of cybercriminals.