Ransomware payments skyrocketed in 2023, hitting a record-high $1.1 billion extorted from targets of the schemes, according to a Chainalysis report released Wednesday.
The New York-based firm’s report details ransomware actors going after companies such as British Airways, as well as targeting infrastructure that yielded a surge of ransom payments.
The 2023 figure is a vast increase from the $567 million extorted in 2022, indicating that ransomware is “an escalating problem,” according to the report.
Cybercriminal groups have targeted schools, hospitals and casinos. The groups have also gone after wealthier companies. They’ve utilized a “big game hunting” strategy, deploying fewer attacks, but getting bigger payloads with each strike, according to Chainalysis.
Caesars Entertainment, the casino company, was hit with a cyberattack last September, days after MGM Resorts International, another casino company, reported having “cybersecurity issues,” causing a shutdown of some of the hotel and casino computer systems.
MGM Resorts had $100 million in recovery costs from the attack. The Chainalysis report does not detail additional losses that often surpass millions of dollars after a break-in occurs. U.S. fuel operator Colonial Pipeline had to shut down operations for several days in May after a ransomware attack.
On Thursday, the State Department announced a reward of up to $10 million to those who have information that could help identify or locate leaders connected to Hive, a global ransomware gang, known for extorting more than $100 million in ransom payments. The Department of Justice dismantled the group in January last year.
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