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Falling Revenue for Ransomware Attacks Suggests Victims Are Refusing To Pay | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Revenue is apparently down for ransomware attacks, suggesting that more victims are refusing to pay the hackers. 

The findings come from the blockchain tracking firm Chainanalysis, which has been helping law enforcement track down cryptocurrency payments to hackers. On Thursday, the company published a report(Opens in a new window) about how ransomware hackers only managed to extort at least $456.8 million in 2022 —which is down from $765.6 million the year before.     

That means the ransomware industry may have seen its revenues plummet by about 40% year-over-year. Of course, the numbers only account for known cryptocurrency transactions to ransomware gangs. So the true totals for the ransomware earnings, while unclear, are likely much higher. 

“When we published last year’s version of this report, for example, we had only identified $602 million in ransomware payments in 2021(Opens in a new window),” the company added. “Still, the trend is clear: Ransomware payments are significantly down.”

The declining revenue in 2022 also occurred as the number of ransomware attacks and various strains still remained high. In addition, Chainanalysis cited data from Coveware, a ransomware response company, which shows the probability a client will pay up has decreased from 76% in 2019 to 41% in 2022. 

Coveware graph


The big question is what’s causing victims to pay up less frequently. One reason might be because the US government has threatened to punish companies that make ransomware payments to sanctioned hacker groups. Coveware itself will refuse to help a client pay off a ransomware incident if the hacker is connected to a sanctioned entity. 

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“Another big factor is the outlook of cyber insurance firms, who are usually the ones reimbursing victims for ransomware payments,” Chainanalysis added. The cyber insurance sector has been raising its requirements on the clients that can be insured, which is causing many companies to beef up their cybersecurity defenses and resort to backups, instead of paying the hackers, in the event a ransomware infection hits.  

That all said, the numbers from Chainanalsys still show ransomware remains a menace. In its own blog post(Opens in a new window), cybersecurity provider Emsisoft said, “the reality is that nobody knows for sure whether the number of attacks are flat or trending up or down” since most attacks go unreported to the public.  Still, if there has been a decrease in the amount paid to the hackers, then that “could be regarded as a win even if the number of incidents had increase,” Emsisoft added.

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