It is reported by Bleeping Computer that security researcher DarkTracer has tracked data leaks since 2019, concluding that 34 ransomware groups have leaked data stolen from 2,103 organizations to date. The data are usually leaked on the dark web following a cyber-attack in which the attackers have been able to infiltrate a company system, exfiltrate sensitive data, encrypt the data to prevent access, demand a ransom payment to decrypt the data and— when the victim refuses to pay the ransom— demand a second ransom for the destruction of the exfiltrated data. This is called a double extortion ransomware attack.

According to DarkTracer, the top five groups leaking stolen data include: Conti, Sodinokibi/REvil, DoppelPaymer, Avaddon, and Pysa. In addition, since ransomware groups have been successful in extorting ransoms with the threat of leaking data, data leak marketplaces have been created to sell the stolen data following exfiltration. According to Bleeping Computer, “[W]hile it may seem better to pay a ransom to prevent a data leak, there is no guarantee that the data won’t be released or sold to other threat actors. Therefore, if your data is stolen, you are better off treating it as a data breach and being transparent about it to those who are affected.”

Coveware issued its Q1 2021 Ransomware Report on April 26, 2021, which concludes that “[D]ata exfiltration extortion continues to be prevalent and we have reached an inflection point where the vast majority of ransomware attacks now include the theft of corporate data.”

The Report states that the average ransom payment increased 43 percent from $154,108 in Q4 2020 to $220,000 in Q1 2021, and the median payment in Q1 2021 increased from $49,450 to $78,398, a 58 percent increase. According to Coveware, the activity by CloP in Q1 2021 was “extremely active.”

Seventy-seven percent of all threats included the threat to leak exfiltrated data, which was an increase of 10 percent from Q4 2020. Sodinokibi continued to dominate the market share as a ransom type at 14.2 percent, followed by Conti V2, Lockbit, CloP, Egregor, Avaddon, Ryuk, Darkside, Suncrypt, Netwalker, and Phobos. Of these, Egregor has sunset its operations, and Netwalker was dismantled by law enforcement.

The top vectors for attacks included remote desktop protocol compromise, “phishing emails that install credential stealing malware,” software vulnerability, and vulnerabilities in VPN appliances.