Monero Becomes First Choice Of Ransom Payments: “double extortion” Ransomware Attacks Increases By 500%

CipherTrace, a blockchain analytics firm, has revealed the growing influence of privacy-focused crypto assets such as Monero in the growth of ransomware. 

The report titled “Current Trends in Ransomware,” published last week, mentions the trends run in 2021. In the period between 2020 to 2021, an increase of 500% was seen in attacks regarding “double extortion” ransomware. 

These attacks involve bad actors stealing the private data of the victim in addition to encrypting it. 

The findings in the crypto mirror those of Chainalysis, an analytics firm. Chainalysis revealed that overall ransomware crypto payments touched the mark of $600 million for the period.

As per the research, the demands for a ransom payment in Monero (XMR) increased last year as the bad actors added premiums for payments made in Bitcoin (BTC) between 10-20%. 

Further, it revealed that around 22 ransomware strains accept payments in XMR, while seven among them accept both BTC and XMR. 

The ransomware actors look at the higher prices of BTC as a premium to handle the increased risk with the use of BTC, which can be traced easily. 

The report also mentions a Russian-speaking ransomware gang called Everest Group which itself claimed to have hacked the U.S Government in October last year. Everest Ransomware is “trying to sell the data for $500,000 in XMR currently,” as per the data from CipherTrace. 

The Russian DarkSide group that attacked the U.S. Colonial Pipeline in May 2021 is another example. The payment for the ransom can be made in XMR or BTC. However, the cost is more for the latter. 

As of early 2020, the REvil ransomware started asking for payments in XMR from demanding payments in XMR. 

The reason Monero has become the primary asset of choice for those asking for ransoms since Monero is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency that leverages a combination of technologies such as ring signatures, mixers, and stealth addresses that hides receiving and sending wallets. 

Due to the same reason, Some exchanges in countries like Japan and the U.K  have delisted privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Zcash and Dash. 

In order to enhance its anonymity and privacy properties, the Monero blockchain will be hard forked in July.  

Steve Anderrson
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