Crypto ransomware payments hit $1bn last year

Ransomware hackers haul in over $1 billion as "big game hunting" cyber gangs perfect the cryptographic shakedown against healthcare and government targets.

Alina Ivanov

Alina Ivanov

A record $1.1 billion in ransomware payments landed in the crypto wallets of cybercriminal groups in 2023, nearly doubling the previous high-water mark.

According to a report published Wednesday by blockchain analytics company Chainalysis, these increasingly sophisticated attacks on hospitals, schools and government bodies netted scammers over $1 billion, fueled by the growing appeal of high profits with low barriers to entry.

Dubbed “big game hunting” by Chainalysis, many ransomware hackers now focus almost exclusively on securing payments over $1 million.

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One analysis estimates nearly 75% of all ransomware revenue last year stemmed from the growing number of “whale hunting” cyber gangs and crowdfunding initiatives orchestrating seven- and eight-figure cryptographic shakedowns.

Among the most brazen was the “cl0p” group which generated close to $100 million by exploiting vulnerabilities in the MOVEit file-sharing system, used by hundreds of high-profile institutions across healthcare, telecoms and energy.

While crypto losses dropped across most other cybercrime categories, experts concede ransomware payments remain drastically undercounted, neglecting funds fuelling offline drug and weapons trafficking.

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