Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Data Protection

Researchers Estimate Ryuk Ransomware Operations to Be Worth $150 Million

The Ryuk ransomware criminal enterprise is estimated to be worth more than $150,000,000, security researchers say.

The Ryuk ransomware criminal enterprise is estimated to be worth more than $150,000,000, security researchers say.

Initially detailed in 2018 and believed to be operated by Russian cybercriminals, Ryuk has become one of the most prevalent malware families, being used in various high-profile attacks, such as the targeting of Pennsylvania-based UHS and Alabama hospital chain DCH Health System.

Ryuk’s is believed to be operated by the same cybercriminals as the TrickBot Trojan, and its distribution has been associated with the TrickBot botnet, which in October survived a takedown attempt.

[ALSO READ: Anatomy of Ryuk Attack: 29 Hours to Full Compromise ]

In October 2020, the DFIR Report published a comprehensive analysis of a Ryuk attack, explaining how operators used phishing emails as the initial attack vector, performed extensive reconnaissance on the local network, and then proceeded to deploy and run Ryuk.

The attackers deployed Ryuk 29 hours after initial compromise, and demanded a ransom payment of approximately $6 million to be made. Many of the payments Ryuk’s operators receive (mainly through a broker) amount to millions of dollars, but most of them are in the hundreds of thousands range.

Going after high profile victims appears to have allowed Ryuk operators to build a highly lucrative enterprise, which might have generated more than $150,000,000 in revenue over the past two years and a half.

The estimate was made by Brian Carter, principal researcher at HYAS, and Vitali Kremez, CEO and chairman of Advanced Intelligence LLC, after they had a look into transactions for known Bitcoin addresses associated with Ryuk.

Carter and Kremez were able to trace 61 deposit addresses associated with the ransomware and discovered that the majority of the funds were sent to exchanges through intermediaries, for cash out.

The cybercriminals appear to be primarily using the Asian crypto-exchanges Huobi and Binance, although both require documents to exchange crypto-coins to fiat currency, and both claim to be willing to cooperate with law enforcement.

Additionally, Ryuk operators are sending “significant flows of crypto currency” to several small addresses that are believed to be “a crime service that exchanges the cryptocurrency for local currency or another digital currency.”

“Significant volumes of Bitcoin move from the laundering service to Binance, Huobi, and crime markets that we have identified through traced payments,” the two researchers say.

Related: Ryuk Ransomware Attacks Continue Following TrickBot Takedown Attempt

Related: U.S. Hospitals Warned of Imminent Ransomware Attacks From Russia

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.


The North Korean APT tracked as TA444 is either moonlighting from its previous primary purpose, expanding its attack repertoire, or is being impersonated by...

CISO Strategy

Cybersecurity-related risk is a top concern, so boards need to know they have the proper oversight in place. Even as first-timers, successful CISOs make...


The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.

Mobile & Wireless

Technical details published for an Arm Mali GPU flaw leading to arbitrary kernel code execution and root on Pixel 6.

Cloud Security

VMware vRealize Log Insight vulnerability allows an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of a target system.

Mobile & Wireless

Apple rolled out iOS 16.3 and macOS Ventura 13.2 to cover serious security vulnerabilities.