- U.S. banks and financial institutions reported a record surge in ransomware payments in 2021, with almost 1,500 filings valued at a total of nearly $1.2 billion, according to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
- The total represented a 188% increase from 2020, when there were 487 filings for a total value of $416 million. Officials said the rapid increase may be due to a surge in actual incidents as well as improved reporting and detection of attacks.
- Russia-related variants accounted for about 75%, or 594, of the 793 incidents reported during the second half of 2021.
The report confirms an array of anecdotal evidence about malicious cyberattacks from nation states and criminal actors over the past two years.
Sophisticated actors, many aligned or supported by rogue nation states, have stepped up activity against U.S. organizations, including critical infrastructure providers like Colonial Pipeline and meat supplier JBS USA.
Ransomware payments nearly tripled from 2020 to 2021
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo addressed the ransomware threat Tuesday during the second International Counter Ransomware Initiative Summit.
“We may approach the challenge of ransomware with a different lens — and in some cases an entirely different set of tools — but we are all here because we know that ransomware remains a critical threat to victims across the globe and remains profitable for bad actors,” Adeyemo said, according to a readout of his prepared remarks.
Late Tuesday, the coalition of 36 countries and the European Union pledged to take additional steps to combat ransomware following the summit.
The group will establish a voluntary International Counter Ransomware Task Force led by Australia as the inaugural chair and coordinator. The task force will enhance early warning capabilities and work to counter illicit financing.