Victims of ransomware attacks paid hackers $590 million during the first six months of 2021, more than in all of 2020, according to an analysis of suspicious activity reports by the Treasury Department.
The number and severity of ransomware attacks surged in 2021. Prominent incidents include the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline, which paid the hackers millions to unlock its systems. The attack led to gasoline shortages on the East Coast.
“Other recent attacks have targeted various sectors, including manufacturing, legal, insurance, health care, energy, education, and the food supply chain in the United States and across the globe,” the Treasury report (pdf) states.
The Treasury’s report is based on suspicious activity reports filed by banks and other financial institutions. The department received 635 such reports during the first half of 2021, up from 458 reports in all of 2020.
Bitcoin was the most common method of ransomware payment, the report said.