Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis has published a new report suggesting that cybercriminals stationed in Russia have made off with approximately $400 million in stolen digital currency funds.
Cybercrime in Russia Is Booming
Chainalysis says that much of this money was garnered through extortion and ransomware attacks. The news plays on the idea that crypto crime has grown heavily in recent years, with the blockchain firm stating in recent documents that billions of dollars in lost funds can be attributed to cyberattacks on crypto exchanges and traders over the past two years.
Right now, Russia is at the forefront of mainstream media given that the nation is allegedly gathering troops to invade Ukraine, it’s neighbor to the west. A bitcoin fund has been set up for the Ukrainian military to ensure soldiers have enough firepower, medical supplies, and other items to keep themselves defended from any future acts of war from Russia.
In the report, Chainalysis says that specific ransomware events that occurred last year are tied to Russian cybercriminals, some of which are associated with Russian cybercriminal organization Evil Corp. In addition, approximately 13 percent of the stolen funds went to Russian users and were discovered by monitoring Russian web traffic.
In the report, Chainalysis writes:
That brings us to another point: A huge amount of cryptocurrency-based money laundering, not just of ransomware funds but of funds associated with other forms of cybercrime as well, goes through services with substantial operations in Russia.
Over the past year or so, Chainalysis says it’s been monitoring several digital currency organizations stationed in Moscow, which houses much of the country’s financial district. Each business being watched by the blockchain firm has received hundreds of millions of dollars in digital currency each quarter since the beginning of 2021, with nearly $1.2 billion being accumulated just in the second quarter of last year alone.
The report goes on to say:
In any given quarter, the illicit and risky addresses account for between 29 percent and 48 percent of all funds received by Moscow City cryptocurrency businesses.
In addition, more than $700 million was received by these businesses from illicit addresses or wallets that could not be identified.
Recent reports issued by the blockchain analysis enterprise suggest that Russia is not alone in targeting crypto funds as a means of making money it didn’t earn. Another culprit, North Korea, is reported to have stolen as much as $400 million in digital currency through seven separate attacks that occurred over the course of 2021.
North Korea Has Raked in Quite a Bit
Much of this money, the document explains, was garnered through phishing attacks and malware, and the North Korean government worked hard to hide and launder the funds quickly once they were stolen. Chainalysis said:
Once North Korea gained custody of the funds, they began a careful laundering process to cover up and cash out.