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Cybercriminals experience huge revenue drop as victims refuse to pay

Cybercriminals are experiencing financial difficulties as their revenues dropped by 40% in 2022 following victims’ refusal to pay a ransom.

Researchers at an American blockchain analysis company Chainalysis recorded $456.8 million in extortion obtained by criminals last year, down from $765.6 million in 2021. For comparison, 2020’s profits stood on par with 2021’s at approximately $765 million.

“As always, we have to caveat these findings by noting that the true totals are much higher, as there are cryptocurrency addresses controlled by ransomware attackers that have yet to be identified on the blockchain and incorporated into our data,” researchers note.

Nonetheless, the findings represent a curious trend. Instead of coming to the conclusion that the number of attacks has decreased, cryptocurrency experts suggest a different reason: crooks are earning less because victims are not paying up.

Insurers are growing increasingly reluctant to pay ransoms, although crooks’ demands were generally much higher in 2022, increasing nearly fivefold.

Some countries, like Australia, are actively considering banning ransom payments, making it illegal to reward hackers for their deeds. This would prevent the incentivization of cybercriminals by limiting their access to profits. However, no government has yet passed such a law.

Chainalysis also recorded a “boom” in the number of malicious software in operation last year, citing Fortinet, which reported that over 10,000 unique ransomware strains were active in the first half of 2022.

This furtherly suggests that ransomware attacks are as alive as ever, yet victims are starting to take their stance.

“Cyber insurance has really taken the lead in tightening not only who they will insure, but also what insurance payments can be used for, so they are much less likely to allow their clients to use an insurance payout to pay a ransom,” Recorded Future intelligence analyst and ransomware expert Allan Liska told Chainalysis.

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