US Banks Reported Massive Amount in Likely Ransomware Payments Last Year
(RepublicanPress.org) – The US Department of Treasury established the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) on April 25, 1990, at the direction of then-Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady. The program’s original mission included creating an inter-agency multi-source intelligence and analysis network to detect, investigate, and prosecute money laundering operations and other financial crimes.
The USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001 expanded FinCEN’s operations to include providing lawmakers and other US policymakers with “strategic analyses” of “trends and patterns” within domestic and international financial crimes, according to FinCEN’s Appendix A.
On November 1, FinCEN announced the release of its most recent Financial and Trend Analysis report detailing ransomware-related filings pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act in the second half of 2021. The 10-page document also described the estimated total ransomware payments coordinated by US banks during the entire year.
Ransomware Filings for 2021 Reached Nearly $1.2 Billion in 2021
The FinCEN’s press release explained the network released the report under authority granted by the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. It also noted the analysis resulted from the increase in frequency and severity of ransomware attacks against America’s critical infrastructure beginning in late 2020.
The Financial and Trend Analysis reported how FinCEN received nearly 1,500 filings related to potential ransomware in 2021. The total US dollar value of the incidents approached $1.2 billion, constituting a roughly 188% increase over the previous year’s amount. However, the report noted it’s not certain whether this is due to improvements in the identification and reporting of issues or an increase in attacks.
With the figures broken down, the analysis stated that data collected under the Bank Secrecy Act showed financial institutions reported an average of 132 incidents related to ransomware attacks per month in 2021. The median ransom payouts for the first half of 2021 averaged roughly $102,000, but increased to $135,000 in the second half of the year.
Russians Accused of Many Ransomware Incidents
The report attributed a high number of ransomware incidents to bad actors located in Russia. FinCEN’s report detailed the prevalence of Russia-related variants during the second half of 2021. Noting the difficulty in tracing cyber attacks, the analysis said several variants used Russian-language code. Additionally, the cybercriminals coded the malware to avoid attacking targets in Russia and post-Soviet nations.
According to the report, around 75% of the nearly 800 known ransomware attacks reported to FinCEN during the second half of 2021 involved “Russia-related variants.”
US-Led Ransomware Summit
The FinCEN report was released near the end of a summit led by the White House, which gathered 36 nations and the EU to address global ransomware concerns. This was the second summit of its kind and focused on ways for leaders to counter and prevent ransomware attacks.
Over the next year, members of the Counter Ransomware Initiative will be taking multiple steps outlined by the White House in a continued effort to combat the issue.
You can also go to FinCEN’s site at www.fincen.gov/fincen-combats-ransomware to find information regarding the network’s efforts to combat ransomware incidents.
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