Ransomware payments in crypto tallied higher than US$602 million in 2021, according to blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, with average payments recording US$118,000, or 34% higher than the 2020 average. 

Fast facts

  • Chainalysis found that its 2020 totals reported last year were undervalued at US$350 million, and has now updated its 2020 estimates to over US$692 million.
  • The 2021 total is also believed to be underestimated, and is expected to eventually reach the largest crypto ransomware payment total in history. 
  • The top three largest ransomware payments last year involved Conti, DarkSide and Phoenix Cryptolocker, with Russia-based Conti extorting at least US$180 million from victims.
  • Third-party services such as rented infrastructure, hacking tools, and stolen data have made ransomware attacks more effective in recent years. 
  • The report pointed out that from 2020, 56% of the ransom funds went to three major international crypto exchanges, one Russia-based exchange, and two cryptocurrency mixing services. 
  • Chainalysis also said ransomware is becoming a tool for attacks in geopolitical conflicts, stating Iran had the most number of suspected links with ransomware strains, followed by Russia, China and North Korea.