Post-COVID Rebuilding Period to Include Massive Crypto Crimes: Kaspersky Labs

2020 has been brutal. This year witnessed a wave of cyber attacks on companies as the lockdown forced companies and their employees to work remotely. As things settle down and countries reopen, a new report has sounded the alarm on possible attacks for post-covid.

No Rest for the Crypto Space

Top cybersecurity solutions provider Kaspersky Labs shared a report revealing that the post-COVID era could come with a significant number of cryptocurrency attacks. The report focused primarily on financial institutions, and it was compiled by Kaspersky’s cyber threat research arm Securelist.

Securelist argues that the post-COVID era would be marked by extreme poverty, with many still out of a job and transitioning between jobs as companies try to get back on their feet. With little to no income coming in, many unemployed could turn to cybercrime to maintain a “living.” Ultimately, this could lead to an increase in criminal activity related to Bitcoin.

Securelist highlighted that Bitcoin’s popularity means that it would most likely be the asset of choice for many prospective criminals. The research arm highlighted in its report,

“We might see certain economies crashing and local currencies plummeting, which would make Bitcoin theft a lot more attractive.

We should expect more fraud, targeting mostly BTC, due to this cryptocurrency being the most popular one.”

However, Securelist also pointed out that many of these hacks could focus on Monero, the most famous privacy-focused cryptocurrency. With assets like Bitcoin and Ether becoming easier to track, privacy coins would be the next gold rush.

The crypto space has been relatively silent when it comes to criminal activity. Crypto analytics firm CipherTrace pointed out in a report from earlier this month that the volume of crypto crime in the industry had declined significantly from 2019.

Per an account from Reuters, the report explained that the first ten months of 2020 saw $1.8 billion in crypto crime. This number pales in comparison to the $4.4 billion reported last year.

Increased Ransomware Crimes

The rate of cryptocurrency crimes slowed in 2020 as exchanges and custodial companies strengthen their security and internal processes. Despite this reduction, ransomware attacks demanding cryptocurrencies are gradually becoming the norm.

In 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 75 percent increase in ransomware attacks on the health sector. Businesses in these sectors and other educational organizations spent over $100 million to retrieve their data from ransomware gangs.

In addition to the cost spent on attackers, U.S government agencies also coughed up over $150 million on restoring their networks, investigating security breaches, and setting up preventive measures.

As of August, McAfee Security confirmed that NetWalker, one of the top ransomware variants, had generated $25 million for its users in just four months.

To make matters worse, NetWalker was only discovered in 2019. However, the group operating it reportedly earned a ransom income of 2,795 BTC (about $25 million at the time) – between March 1 and July 27, 2020.

The report highlighted that part of the ransomware’s profitability had been due to its Ransomware-as-a-service operation. The operators have developed an affiliate revenue sharing system that allows other operators to earn funds from ransoms paid by victims.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

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