TL; DR Breakdown
- CipherTrace reports an increase in XMR payments for ransomware
- Chainalysis data confirms the CipherTrace report
- Hackers are dumping BTC for XMR
CipherTrace, a blockchain firm in the crypto market focused on analytics, has announced increased participation of private digital asset, Monero in ransomware attacks. In its latest report looking into the current behavior of scammers in the sector, CipherTrace highlighted its observation across 2021. In the report, the analysis firm confirmed a spike of around 500% in ransomware attacks which were double extortion. The time frame considered in the report was the activities of hackers and scammers from 2020 to 2021.
Chainalysis data confirms the CipherTrace report
Ransomeware is a cybercrime where hackers steal important information from a user’s account before encrypting it. In most cases, the hackers always demand payment before details to regain the account can be received. The report also confirmed an earlier released report where Chainalysis claimed that ransomware had enjoyed about $600 million in payments via digital assets.
In the report, CipherTrace said a huge spike in Monero payments for criminal activities as hackers only accepted about a 10% premium for payments in BTC. In a sample size of 50 attacks carried out in the period, 22 of the hackers involved requested payments via Monero. The survey also mentioned that about seven hackers instructed a payment via BTC and XMR.
Hackers are dumping BTC for XMR
The report claimed that the attackers chose to accept payments in Bitcoin because the affected parties would pay more. This is because of the risk of accepting payments in Bitcoin, which could be traced to them. One of the groups notorious for these crimes, Everest Group, was quoted in the report. In October 2021, the Russian hacker group was said to have hacked the US government. In its report, CipherTrace mentioned that the group had put the US government data on sale with a $500,000 worth of XMR price tag.
Another notorious group is the DarkSide group which ran riot in 2021 by hacking the US pipeline. The hackers asked the government to either pay the ransom in BTC or XMR but would pay more if they wanted to use BTC. Another example is the REvil group which abandoned ransom via BTC to ask for payments from affected victims in XMR.
Monero is a private digital asset that can shield the addresses of the sending and receiving parties in a transaction. It uses several methods such as mixing and stealth addresses to carry out its private transaction. Privacy is one of the reasons why most crypto exchanges have pulled the assets from their websites. Monero is also still set to undergo forking, introducing deeper anonymity on the platform.