SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021 - report

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Fri 28 Jan 2022

Chainalysis is releasing its latest money laundering report analysing money laundering activity from the previous year. 

The company found that overall, going by the amount of cryptocurrency sent from illicit addresses to addresses hosted by services, cybercriminals laundered $8.6 billion worth of cryptocurrency in 2021.

That represents a 30% increase in money laundering activity over 2020, though Chainalysis says such an increase is unsurprising given the significant growth of both legitimate and illicit cryptocurrency activity in 2021. The company says it's also important to note that these numbers only account for funds derived from "cryptocurrency-native" crime, meaning cybercriminal activity such as dark net market sales or ransomware attacks in which profits are virtually always derived in cryptocurrency rather than fiat currency. 

"It's more difficult to measure how much fiat currency derived from offline crime - traditional drug trafficking, for example - is converted into cryptocurrency to be laundered," the company says. 

"However, we know anecdotally this is happening, and the report provides a case study showing an example of it."

Cybercriminals dealing in cryptocurrency share one common goal: Move their ill-gotten funds to a service where they can be kept safe from the authorities and eventually converted to cash. That's why money laundering underpins all other forms of cryptocurrency-based crime. If there's no way to access the funds, there's no incentive to commit crimes involving cryptocurrency in the first place.

Money laundering activity in cryptocurrency is also heavily concentrated. While billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency move from illicit addresses every year, most of it ends up at a surprisingly small group of services, many of which appear purpose-built for money laundering based on their transaction histories. Law enforcement can strike a massive blow against cryptocurrency-based crime and significantly hamper criminals' ability to access their digital assets by disrupting these services. 

"We saw an example of this last year," Chainalysis explains. "When the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned two of the worst-offending money laundering services - Suex and Chatex - for accepting funds from ransomware operators, scammers, and other cybercriminals. But many other money-laundering services remain active."

Overall, cybercriminals have laundered over $33 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017, with most of the total overtime moving to centralised exchanges. For comparison, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that between $800 billion and $2 trillion of fiat currency is laundered each year - as much as 5% of global GDP. For comparison, money laundering accounted for just 0.05% of all cryptocurrency transaction volume in 2021. 

Chainalysis says the most significant difference between fiat and cryptocurrency-based money laundering is that, due to the inherent transparency of blockchains, it is possible to more easily trace how criminals move cryptocurrency between wallets and services in their efforts to convert their funds into cash. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
Malware
Sharp increase in phishing as cybercriminals leverage SEO to lure victims
"Malware lurking everywhere, from cloud apps to search engines, leaving organisations at greater risk than ever before."
Story image
Blue Prism
Blue Prism Desktop uses IA to defend against vulnerabilities
SS&C Blue Prism Desktop aims to help protect businesses against vulnerabilities, using a combination of security measures and intelligent automation tech.
Story image
VPN
Palo Alto Networks says ZTNA 1.0 not secure enough
Palo Alto Networks is urging the industry to move to Zero Trust Network Access 2.0 because previous versions have major gaps in security protection.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils three new security managed services
Security Experts includes three new managed services, Defender Experts for Hunting, Defender Experts for XDR, Security Services for Enterprise.
Story image
Application Security
Data Theorem launches "industry first" attack surface management solution
"No solution uses full-stack application runtime analysis and dynamic inventory discovery to support the challenges around vendor management."
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Fortinet
Fortinet sees 34% revenue increase in latest financial results
Fortinet has released its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, seeing a total revenue increase of 34.4% compared to the same quarter last year.
Story image
Ransomware
Zerto unveils updates to ransomware recovery capabilities
"Organisations face increased risks from the volume and sophistication of ransomware attacks prevalent today."
Story image
Appian
Appian awarded billions in damages against Pegasystems Inc.
Appian has been awarded USD$2.036 billion in damages against Pegasystems Inc as the result of a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Virginia.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
UiPath
Employee retention increasingly important - automation may help
"Technologies like automation can free workers time, enable a better work-life balance, and create vastly improved efficiencies."
Story image
Forensics
Exterro adds advanced capabilities to digital forensic tool
The launch is in-line with Exterro’s investment in the FTK product line, and underscores the company's commitment to the digital forensics.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Global bot security market to reach US$2.5 billion by 2032
The global bot security market to reach US$2.5 billion by 2032 driven by a growing need for cyber security, according to a new report.
Story image
Phishing
Developments in phishing and how to protect your business
Phishing, the practice of sending malicious emails to encourage users to perform actions that benefit an attacker, is a key security concern for modern businesses due to its prevalence and impact.
Story image
Malware
Use of malware, botnets and exploits expands in Q1 2022
"As zero-day attacks and other vulnerabilities among companies like Google and Microsoft come to light, threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics."
Story image
Cybersecurity
ThoughtLab reveals 10 best practices for cybersecurity in 2022
The benchmarking study reveals best practices that can reduce the probability of a material breach and the time it takes to find and respond to those that happen.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Mitiga
Mitiga discovers potential hidden dangers in Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) cloud control plane
The company also says that there is significant risk in cloud development caused by not recognising the differences between cloud and traditional definitions of common architecture terms.
Story image
Training
Fortinet training edges toward closing cybersecurity gap
The Fortinet Training Institute has made significant progress in closing the cybersecurity skills gap, on track to train one million people by 2026.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from IronNet
Michael Ehrlich joins us today to discuss the history of IronNet and the crucial role the company plays in the cyber defence space.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Three key security challenges facing the Australian insurance industry 
Insurance companies must ensure they proactively address security challenges and protect the privacy of customer data.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Manufacturing
$1 million in cyber skills to stop $100 million in cybercrime
"It is important that the next generation across all industries, including manufacturing, are skilled in cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Versa Networks recognised as SASE leader in Govie Awards
Versa Networks has announced its SASE offering has been recognised in The Govies Government Security Awards competition by Security Today magazine.
Story image
Ransomware
Anniversaries remind us to review identity risks
World Password Day provides a timely reminder for ordinary citizens and organisations to stop and think about the risks associated with digital identities.
Story image
Akamai
Akamai and Fujitsu team up to protect A/NZ orgs against threats
Akamai Technologies and Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand have entered a strategic relationship to assist organisations in the region.
Story image
Microsoft
Apple, Google and Microsoft expands plans to get rid of passwords
FIDO Alliance says the world is closer to not relying on passwords after Apple, Google and Microsoft expands their support for a passwordless sign-in standard.
Story image
Cybersecurity
New report reveals evolving techniques targeting cloud-native environments
Companies are adopting cloud-native technologies faster than ever before. Unfortunately, with new technology comes new threats and challenges.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Firewall
Sophos named Gartner Peer Insights Customers Choice for network firewalls
The company earned the highest overall customer rating among vendors with at least 150 verified customer reviews.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Cisco, Hitachi Vantara, Tricentis & Zscaler
We round up all job appointments from April 28 - May 5, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
New precedent for cybersecurity after legal judgement of RI Advice
In an Australian first, the Federal Court has found that RI Advice failed to adequately manage cybersecurity risks.
Story image
Cryptocurrency
Norton finds deepfakes and crypto scams rising in Australia
Norton says between January and March of this year, it thwarted more than 37,098,261 threats, the equivalent of around 403,241 threats per day.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock releases Autonomous Access solution powered by AI
ForgeRock has officially introduced ForgeRock Autonomous Access, a new solution that uses AI to prevent identity-based cyber attacks and fraud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Companies rushing to secure print infrastructure
As the pandemic prioritised communication channels and the shift to remote work, IT departments fell behind in updating the security of print and IT infrastructure.
Story image
APAC
Odaseva expands in APAC and UK with more security features
Odaseva, a data platform for Salesforce, is establishing new headquarters in London as well as a new data center in India.
Story image
Surveillance
Genetec launches new enclosure management system for data centers
Genetec has released a new enclosure management solution that will give data centers the ability to secure, monitor and manage access to racks and cabinets remotely.
Story image
Ransomware
Ingram Micro Cloud adds Bitdefender solutions to marketplace
Ingram Micro Cloud has announced the expanded availability of Bitdefender solutions on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.