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US banks say 2021 saw over $1B in potential ransomware payments

It was the most ever reported, and more than double than the year before.
ransomware hackers
Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 20:21:29-04

U.S. banks reported over $1 billion in potential ransomware-related attacks and payments in 2021, which was over double that of 2020. It was also the most ever reported.

CNN first reported on the data, which was shared by the U.S. Treasury Department.

The U.S. Treasury says this increase on the record is likely due to banks becoming better at tracking ransomware attacks and payments.

FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das, said that new information shows that “ransomware, including attacks perpetrated by Russian-linked actors, remain a serious threat to our national and economic security.”

In one high-profile case, a ransomware attack in May of 2021 caused a major U.S. pipeline operator to shut down for days while the problem was sorted out.

When the Colonial Pipeline was hacked in 2021, a payment of $4.4 million was released in a desperate effort to get the pipeline back in operation.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was later able to recover about half of the money from the hackers.

The Biden administration will meet over three days in Washington to talk about ways to fight the flow of ransomware payments and protect organizations. Russia will not have a representative at those talks, CNN reported.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) discourages businesses from paying out ransoms, for fear it will encourage the practice to continue.

Some pay the ransom to keep their businesses in operation.