The collection and processing of information was a major theme at the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) hearing titled, “Rising Threats: Ransomware Attacks and Ransom Payments Enabled by Cryptocurrency” on Tuesday. The committee hosted a panel of private-sector experts who discussed the problem of ransomware attacks and the challenges of collecting and using the information necessary to fight them. 

Committee chair Gary Peters of Michigan, who introduced the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act in February, said the government lacks sufficient data even to understand the scope of the threat posed by ransomware attacks. Attackers almost exclusively ask for payment in cryptocurrency, he added.

Several figures were trotted out to quantify the problem. Chainalysis head of cyber threat intelligence Jackie Burns Koven said the company had identified a record $712 million paid to attackers in 2021, with 74% of the money going to threat actors in Russia or with links to Russia. The average payment was $121,000, and the median payment was $6,000. Attackers often use a Ransomware-as-a-Service business model.

Related: Making crypto conventional by improving crypto crime investigations worldwide

Ransomware is a form of extortion, and it existed before cryptocurrency, Institute for Security and Technology chief strategy officer Megan Stifel and Coveware CEO Bill Siegel said. Knowing what information to collect when an attack occurs and how to organize the information is a major challenge for law enforcement, Siegel added….

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