A recent analysis from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) found that ransomware attacks doubled between 2020 and 2021, including a disproportionately large spike coming from Russia.

Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts a victim’s files and holds the data hostage until a ransom is paid, typically through cryptocurrency.

The analysis of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) filings, which was issued on November 1st, documented least 1,251 ransomware-related incidents in 2021, compared to 602 in 2020.

The total cost of incidents also rose to nearly $1.2 billion in 2021, up from $416 million in the prior year, with most of the ransomware payments made using Bitcoin.

Approximately 75% of ransomware-related incidents between June 2021 and December 2021 were connected to Russia-related ransomware variants and totaled $219.5 million in costs, according to FinCEN’s report.

“[The] report reminds us that ransomware — including attacks perpetrated by Russian-linked actors — remain a serious threat to our national and economic security,” FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das said in the press release for the report. “It also underscores the importance of BSA filings, which allow us to uncover trends and patterns in support of whole-of-government efforts to prevent and combat ransomware attacks. Financial institutions play a critical role in helping to protect the United States from ransomware-related threats simply by fulfilling their BSA compliance obligations.”

The BSA filings are a mandatory requirement for U.S. financial institutions when spotting potential criminal activity, including money laundering. FinCEN has made the data public pursuant to U.S. law since 2020.

BinaryLab is committed to protecting clients’ sensitive data by proactively addressing security concerns, as well as providing relevant and timely security expertise. For an assessment or more information, contact BinaryLab at 301-337-3131.