(New York) Nearly $ 590 million in ransomware so-called ransomware attacks were reported by financial institutions operating in the United States earlier in the year, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Treasury Department.
According to the US government, this number is 42% higher than the total reported in 2020, which explains the acceleration of this type of attack in recent months. It represents almost 60% of the total reported over the last ten years between 2011 and 2020.
There is strong reason to believe that the real cost will reach billions of dollars.
This data on 635 special reports was compiled by the Financial Crime Network (FinCEN), which reports to the Treasury. He noted that they were not necessarily related to the ransom payments made in the first six months of 2021, some of which may be older.
According to Finsen, the total ransom paid in the first half of the year was $ 398 million, divided into 458 separate operations.
In a ransomware attack, hackers enter a computer network, and then lock the data. The authors ask those responsible for that company, organization, or administration to pay the ransom, often in the form of cryptocurrencies instead of unlocking.
According to the Treasury Department, researchers found more than 150 online cryptocurrency wallets, and in the analysis found more than $ 5.2 billion worth of transactions related to ransomware payments.
Businesses and organizations are under considerable pressure not only to unlock their data, but also to ensure that customers or executives do not get hit in the ear, the latter they regularly issue harsh warnings against giving money to criminals.
The United States is under attack
Several ransomware attacks targeting US computer company Casey in July have been in the news in recent months. By attacking this company, hackers have gained access to more than a thousand companies providing services around the world.
In early May, the American company Colonial Pipeline was attacked, disrupting energy supplies in the United States. This provoked a strong reaction from the authorities and, as part of the ransom, $ 4.4 million was recovered.
The attacks damaged businesses of all industries and sizes, from mobile, to a hospital in Alabama to an agricultural cooperative in Mankato, Minnesota in September.
Among the countries most affected by this type of cyber-attack, the United States decided to attack.
In late September, the US Treasury blocked the assets of a cryptocurrency platform (SUEX) suspected of being used by hackers for the first time in ransomware attacks.
The platform is affiliated with Russian nationals and is considered by many analysts in Russia, along with China, as one of the largest communities of hackers using ransomware.
On Friday, the Treasury Department published a practical guide for cryptocurrency players, reminding them of their responsibility in the fight against financial crime, under penalty.
“The treasury is helping to stop ransomware attacks by making it harder for criminals to profit from these actions, but we need partners in the private sector to prevent these illegal activities,” the deputy secretary of state said. Wally Ademio said in a statement released Friday.
Washington has invited delegates from 31 countries to a conference dedicated to the topic this week, Wednesday and Thursday. At the end of the meeting, the delegates “recognized” the importance of international cooperation in the region, particularly by sharing information related to suspicious activities or questionable financial transactions.
The Biden administration has been trying to provide a better response to ransomware attacks in recent months.
In addition, a bill currently under discussion in Congress aims to report companies targeted by ransomware attacks to pay the ransom within 48 hours. The text principle is supported by the American government.
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