CipherTrace, a blockchain analytics startup, emphasizes the growing significance of confidentiality cryptocurrencies like Monero in the rising tide of ransomware.
The report “Current Trends in Ransomware” looks at trends through 2021, yet it was only released this week. From 2020 to 2021, the business discovered a nearly 500 percent increase in “double extortion” ransomware attacks. These are cyber attacks in which bad actors steal and encrypt a victim’s sensitive information.
The numbers are identical to those of analytics firm Chainalysis, which stated that total ransomware crypto payments for the period exceeded $600 million.
According to the new data, ransom demands for Monero (XMR) increased last year, with attackers adding surcharges ranging from 10% to 20% for payments made in Bitcoin (BTC). At least 22 ransomware strains (from a list of more than 50) take exclusively XMR payments, and at least seven accept both BTC and XMR.
Ransomware actors are likely to see higher BTC prices as a premium for coping with the greater risk of using a traceable coin like BTC.
The report mentioned Everest Group, a Russian-speaking ransomware organization that claimed to have penetrated the US government in October of last year. Everest Ransomware is “now trying to sell the data for $500,000 in XMR.
Another example is the Russian DarkSide gang, which was responsible for the May 2021 attack on the US Colonial Pipeline. The ransom could be paid in XMR or BTC, however the latter was more expensive.
Only in early 2020 did the REvil ransomware organization switch from seeking BTC to XMR payments.
Monero is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency that encrypts sending and receiving wallets using a variety of technologies such as mixers, ring signatures, and stealth addresses. This is why it has become the preferred asset of those seeking ransom payments.
As a result, certain exchanges in countries including the United Kingdom and Japan have delisted Monero and other extremely privacy-focused cryptocurrencies like Dash and Zcash.
In July, the XMR blockchain will be hard forked in order to improve its anonymity and privacy.
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