North America has become world’s biggest ransomware target as DeFi and crypto use expands, study | #malware | #ransomware


  • North America has become the world’s biggest victim of ransomware attacks, a study by Chainalysis showed.
  • Most of the crypto-based attacks were associated with Russia-based cybercriminal groups, the study added.
  • In July, US President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to do more to address ransomware attacks.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

North America has become the world’s biggest victim of ransomware attacks – paying a hefty $131 million (around R1.8 billion) in cryptocurrency to criminals in the span of a year – in step with the rapid rise of cryptocurrency adoption, a new study by Chainalysis showed.

And in the period between July 2020 to June 2021, most of the cryptocurrency-based attacks were associated with Russia-based cybercriminal groups including Evil Corp, which has been previously linked to the Russian government, Chainalysis said. Others included NetWalker, Egregor, Phoenix Cryptolocker, and Doppelpaymer, the study added.

Top ransomware strains by funds received from North America – July 2020 to June 2021

Chainalysis

Cryptocurrency users in North America paid more than double what those in Western Europe did, which was the second most targeted region, the New York-based data analytics firm found.

Part of the reason for the difference could be attributed to North America being the second-largest cryptocurrency economy in the world, accounting for 18.4% of global activity, Chainalysis said.

“Simply put, more Americans are devoting a higher share of their purchasing power to cryptocurrency than in nearly every other country,” the study said.

The explosion of ransomware attacks in the past year has posed significant security threats, impacting critical infrastructure from military facilities to medical centers.

In July, US President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to do more to address ransomware attacks, warning that the US would take “necessary action” to defend itself, the White House said. Multiple initiatives have since stemmed from the Biden administration to rein in these attacks, including two new enforcement teams from the Justice Department.

Cybercriminals often encrypt crucial files of businesses and hold the data for ransom until they are paid an amount in crypto. Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been the favoured payment method of hackers to skirt law enforcement, as ownership can be difficult to trace.

These methods were on display during the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in April, which led to gas shortages and outages up and down the East Coast. A similar attack soon followed, with JBS, the world’s largest meat producer, forced to shut down operations at major plants.

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