With the backdrop of digitization and globalization, ransomware appears to have become the norm, and multinational corporations are frequently “caught.” Microsoft, Facebook, Tesla, Intel, and Toshiba are among the companies that have claimed to have been targeted by hackers in recent years.
Hackers’ destructive actions can even jeopardize a country’s livelihood. The transshipment of several major oil ports in the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) and Belgium (Antwerp) was halted earlier this year due to a blackmail software attack. Last year, the Russian hacker organization Darkside launched a cyber attack against Colonial, the largest fuel pipeline operator in the United States, causing fuel shortages in many states. For the first time, the United States declared a state of emergency in many states due to cyberattacks, and gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose.
According to survey results of American businesses, the encrypted assets (virtual currency) paid by enterprises and groups seeking ransom computer virus “ransomware” to hackers in 2021 will total at least US $602 million worldwide. This highlights the current situation in which many businesses and organizations are forced to pay a ransom because the data required to run their operations cannot be accessed.
Blackmail software is distributed via email with viruses, which are common throughout the world, including Japan. In 2021, the losses could reach an all-time high. According to the amount paid to various hacker organizations, the hacker organizations suspected of being based in Russia have the most money.
Chainalysis, a virtual currency analysis firm based in the United States, conducted a survey. Hackers force the injured party to pay virtual currency to unlock the data by encrypting it. Hackers will provide an online remittance “address” that corresponds to a bank account.
Chainalysis calculates the payment amount from the circulation records of virtual currency by tracking these addresses. Because it is difficult to identify the participants in virtual currency transactions, many businesses are hesitant to reveal whether they have agreed to pay a ransom.
The amount paid in 2018 was US $39 million, followed by US $152 million in 2019 and a significant increase to the US $692 million in 2020. Among the 2021 payments, the hacker organization “Conti,” whose stronghold may be in Russia, led with $180 million.
Conti stated that he would support Russia’s government in its attack on Ukraine. The organization was discovered to have carried out cyberattacks to destroy Ukrainian systems. It attacked the largest oil pipeline in the United States in May 2021, forcing it to shut down for a period of time, and the “dark network” associated with Russia also received a large sum of money.
There are also differences between ransomware, with 140 different types discovered. There are 21 species that are related to Iran and 16 species that are related to Russia. There are four pertaining to China and two pertaining to North Korea.
In 2021, Japan received 146 reports of extortion software victims, according to the Japanese police agency. All Toyota factories in Japan were temporarily closed due to the attack on the Machili hospital in Tokushima Prefecture and the attack on Toyota’s suppliers on the 1st of this month.
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