Victims paying an average of $118,000 in 2021 — a marked rise on the $88,000 recorded in 2020.
Explaining the trend, the blockchain intelligence firm said:
"One reason for the increase in ransom sizes is ransomware attackers’ focus on carrying out highly targeted attacks against large organizations."
"Anecdotal evidence, plus the fact that ransomware revenue in the first half of 2021 exceeded that of the first half of 2020, suggests to us that 2021 will eventually be revealed to have been an even bigger year for ransomware."
The Conti group — which is believed to be based in Russia — was the ransomware strain that generated the most revenue last year.
It uses a ransomware-as-a-service model that "allows affiliates to launch attacks using its program in exchange for a fee."
DarkSide came second, and this group regularly hit the headlines in 2021 — not least for its attack on the U.S. Colonial Pipeline, which sparked fuel shortages.
Chainalysis singled out this incident as powerful proof of the damage that can be done, writing:
"The Colonial story serves as an important reminder of one reason ransomware attacks are so dangerous: They frequently target critical infrastructure we need to keep the country running — not just energy providers, but food providers, schools, hospitals and financial services companies as well."
"By cracking down on the small number of services that facilitate this money laundering activity, law enforcement can significantly reduce attackers' options for cashing out, reducing the financial incentive to carry out ransomware attacks and hampering ransomware organizations' ability to operate."