74% Of Ransomware Revenue Ends Up In The Hands Of Russian Hackers

A new analysis suggests that Russia is by far driving ransomware attacks and the overwhelming revenue ends up in the country. BBC News has a report on this:

Researchers say more than $400 million worth of crypto-currency payments went to groups “highly likely to be affiliated with Russia.” Russia has denied accusations that it is harboring cyber-criminals. Researchers also claim “a huge amount of crypto-currency-based money laundering” goes through Russian crypto-companies. Chainalysis, which carried out the research, said it was able to follow the flow of money to and from the digital wallets of known hacking groups using public blockchain transaction records. 

In the Chainalysis report, it’s highlighted that 9.9% of all known ransomware revenue is going to Evil Corp – an alleged cyber-crime group which the US has issued sanctions and indictments against, but who are operating in Russia with apparent impunity. A BBC investigation in November found that Igor Turashev, one of the accused leaders of Evil Corp, is operating several businesses out of Moscow City’s Federation Tower. The tower is one of Russia’s most prestigious addresses, home to prominent businesses and with apartments going for millions of dollars. Chainalysis claims several crypto-currency companies based in the tower were used by hackers to launder illicit funds, turning crypto-currency from digital wallet addresses to mainstream money. “In any given quarter, the illicit and risky addresses account for between 29% and 48% of all funds received by Moscow City crypto-currency businesses,” researchers allege.

Now Russia has always denied that it harbours cybercriminals. But this report makes it pretty clear that they do at least tolerate cybercriminals as it’s clearly an economic driver. Perhaps besides following the money, what needs to be done is to seize the money, or at least make it so expensive that it’s not worth their while to harbour cybercriminals.

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