April 20, 2024
Cybercrime Revenue

Revealing the Hidden Fortunes and Underestimations in Cybercrime Revenue

In a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers from the IMDEA Software Institute, new insights have emerged regarding the revenue generated by cybercriminal groups using the Bitcoin blockchain. The study challenges existing figures and sheds light on the true financial impact of cybercriminal activity.

Titled “Cybercrime Bitcoin Revenue Estimations: Quantifying the Impact of Methodology and Coverage”, the research uncovers the extent to which methodological limitations and incomplete data affect estimations of cybercriminal earnings. It addresses the commonly accepted notion that cybercriminal revenue is underestimated due to the lack of coverage on their campaigns, particularly the comprehensive set of Bitcoin addresses they employ to receive payments from their victims.

For the first time, this study provides quantifiable evidence of the magnitude of underestimation. The researchers also identify the potential for certain estimation methodologies to significantly overestimate revenues and propose an estimation tool that mitigates such errors.

The study’s findings are based on a meticulous analysis of over 30,000 payment addresses utilized by various cybercriminal groups involved in activities such as ransomware, clippers, sextortion, Ponzi schemes, giveaway scams, and cryptocurrency exchange scams.

One of the key contributions of this research is the quantification of underestimation, exemplified by the analysis of the DeadBolt ransomware. By identifying the complete set of payment addresses associated with DeadBolt, the researchers estimate its revenue at $2.47 million, a staggering 39 times higher than previous estimates. These revelations not only provide new insights into the scale of cybercrime but also emphasize the significance of innovative data collection approaches in combating online criminal activities.

Cryptocurrency payments, particularly Bitcoin, are widely utilized by cybercriminals. In 2022, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reported that cryptocurrencies were the most common payment method used by fraud victims, surpassing credit cards, wire transfers, and bank transfers. Among cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin remains the dominant choice, followed by Ethereum, with other options such as Monero and Cardano trailing behind.

The implications of this research are far-reaching and have the potential to significantly impact the cybersecurity and law enforcement communities. It calls for a fresh perspective on combating cybercrime and dismantling its financial networks. The study serves as a testament to the importance of continuously evolving methodologies and tools in the ongoing fight against digital criminal enterprises. By accurately quantifying cybercriminal revenues and refining estimation techniques, researchers and authorities can better strategize and implement proactive measures to counter cyber threats.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it