Ransomware attacks are among the most common tools in the arsenal of cybercriminals. In a ransomware attack, attackers typically place malicious apps or software in a computer and then demand a fee (ransom) to stop the attack. Instances of ransomware attacks are on the rise, as can be seen from various reports and statistics. Anonymity-focused cryptocurrencies, in particular, play a key role in facilitating ransomware attacks. According to the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), payments related to ransomware attacks in 2021 is already more than what it was in 2020. Over $590 million is linked to ransomware attacks in the first 6 months of 2021 alone. Most of this amount was paid by financial institutes and trading exchanges. In 2020, the amount of money involved in ransomware was $416 million. The amount in the first half of 2021 alone is more than the whole of 2020.
However, it is still not clear whether a majority of this amount was paid through crypto or fiat currency. A press release from the United States Department of Treasury mentions that ransomware attackers are taking refuge in anonymity-focused cryptocurrencies like Monero more than ever.
FinCEN calculated the amount based on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). From the total estimates, a grand total of more than $5 billion might be linked to ransomware payments. In this situation, there is again a call for increased regulations of cryptocurrencies. Anonymity-focused cryptocurrencies are at the forefront of criticism. However, many feel that regulations are not a permanent solution to such problems.