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Darkside gang estimated to have made over $90 million from ransomware attacks

The operators of the Darkside ransomware are believed to have made at least $90 million from ransom payments over the past nine months, since October 2020.

"In total, just over $90 million in Bitcoin ransom payments were made to DarkSide, originating from 47 distinct wallets," blockchain analysis firm Elliptic said in a report published earlier today.

Citing data shared by dark web intelligence platform DarkTrace, Elliptic said the Darkside group appears to have made at least 99 victims, of which approximately 47% paid their ransom demands.

"The average payment was $1.9 million," said Elliptic co-founder and chief scientist Dr. Tom Robinson.

"May was set to be a record month, until DarkSide reportedly shut down its operations on May 13, and its Bitcoin wallet was emptied."


Elliptic's report comes after previous studies have put the estimated earnings of gangs like Maze/Egregor at $75 millionRyuk at $150 millionREvil at $100 million (threat actor's own claims), and Netwalker at $25 million (for a period of 3 months only).

While estimating a ransomware gang's earnings is not an exact science, as investigators never have a full picture of a gang's operations, Elliptic's findings firmly put the Darkside group in the upper echelon of ransomware operations.

Since Darkside is provided through a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model, which allows the Darkside coders to keep 25% of the paid ransoms, or 10% if the ransom is larger than $5 million, Elliptic believes that the actual Darkside group made roughly $15.5 million, while the rest of the funds were transferred to Darkside's affiliates—the group who rented the ransomware and then deployed it inside the hacked companies.

Bot knowing how much money a ransomware gang made is a rather useless stat that does nothing but promotes the profitability of the ransomware criminal ecosystem.

In an email today, Dr. Robinson told The Record that they weren't only able to estimate the group's earnings, but they were also able to track down how the Darkside payments moved across the blockchain to cash-out points, information which the Elliptic exec said is available to the law enforcement agencies that use its platform and "which provides investigators with important leads."

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Catalin Cimpanu

Catalin Cimpanu

is a cybersecurity reporter who previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.