The fight against crypto scams in 2022 was so strong that the number of dollars extorted from victims decreased.
456.8 million is the amount extorted by ransomware in 2022, down from $756.6 million in 2021. The number remains very high; there is still a lot of work to be done to counter cyber attacks.
What are ransomware, the scams affecting the crypto world
Ransomware is a computer program that can infect any digital device and then demand a ransom to be paid to unlock the device. Usually, an automatic window appears on the locked device. The user has a few days, or a few hours to pay the ransom, otherwise the content lockout will become permanent.
There are two types of ransomware: cryptors (which encrypt files contained on the device, making them inaccessible) and blockers (which block access to the infected device).
Ransomware in several cases can be installed remotely; it spreads mostly through forms of communication received through email, text messages or messaging systems.
There are several ways to get rid of ransomware, although the simplest solution unfortunately, is to pay the ransom. However, paying may come with the risk of not actually receiving the unlock codes. What is usually recommended is to contact specialized technicians who can unlock the device.
Scams are being rescaled
In recent years, ransomware strains have appeared all over the place, giving a sense that the world of these types of scams is really very crowded. This results in a lot of competition in that area as well. Industry analysts have realized that many strains of ransomware are overlapping with each other.
It was also noted that several trials led to the understanding that in 2022 many victims refused to pay, creating a drop in cybercriminals’ earnings. Bringing scam revenues down by about 40% from 2021 to 2022.
The sums we are talking about are truly exorbitant, in 2021 the revenue from these scams was $765.6 million, while in 2022 it dropped to $456.8 million.
However, failure to pay sometimes leads scammers to blackmail victims in other ways, threatening to publish their data if they fail to pay.
An important factor is that paying ransoms has become legally riskier, especially following an OFAC warning in September 2021 about the potential for penalty violations when paying ransoms.
How to prevent possible cyber attacks?
It still remains difficult to arrive at a final method of protection that will end ransomware and make browsing safer. However, there are practices that are recommended to avoid falling for certain attacks.
First of all, it is necessary to have strict control of what enters the devices, thanks to this one can avoid or rather, monitor possible entry of malware.
Possible ways of entry are through any network sharing medium, so email, instant messaging, torrent uploading/downloading, file sharing, cloud. But also external storage, often connected via USB ports or portable disks.
It is therefore recommended to reject every attachment received, except the expected ones, so that there are no surprises once opened. This process is called whitelisting and it helps a lot, reducing the number of threats, but it clearly does not totally solve the problem.
Another tip is to avoid sites of questionable quality, mainly illegal download sites. Also avoid the dark web or torrent files, you have no certainty about what you are downloading or searching for.
The processes of prevention are a combination that creates what is called digital hygiene. Digital hygiene helps a lot against ransomware and is the strategic spearhead tool of digitization and innovation.
Unfortunately though, while it is really important, it is still not completely sufficient for prevention. By adopting good digital hygiene, the risk is reduced but not nullified.
Ransomware is really a dangerous tool, very often people take preventive measures too late, losing a lot of money or consequently their data.
The good news is that attacks are decreasing a lot over time, if we continue with this trend, they will fall even more in 2023. Hopefully, digital hygiene techniques will increase even more.