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Suspected ransomware payments total nearly $600 million for first half of 2021

That's more than the total value of ransomware payments made in all of 2020, a Treasury report says.

Ransomware is on the rise and companies are paying up, according to a new Treasury report. 

Suspected ransomware payments totaled nearly $600 million for the first six months of this year, easily surpassing the total for all of 2020, according to a new report from the Department of the Treasury.

The report, published Friday by the department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, comes in the wake of a handful of high-profile ransomware attacks this year, including those at Colonial Pipeline and meat processor JBS USA Holdings.

Both companies paid millions of dollars in ransoms, but the attacks still wreaked temporary havoc, pushing up the price of gasoline and meat as the companies lost control of their supplies.

According to Friday's report, which is based on data from suspicious activity reports filed by banks and other financial institutions, suspected ransomware payments reported during the January through June period totaled $590 million. In comparison, the value of suspected payments reported during all of 2020 totaled $416 million. 

The Treasury says the rise potentially reflects both a big increase in ransomware-related attacks, as well as improved detection and reporting of those attacks by financial institutions. It notes that the number of ransomware-related suspicious activity reports also rose 30 percent to 635, when compared to the entire calendar year of 2020.

If those reporting trends continue, the Treasury Department says it expects the total amount of suspected ransomware payments for 2021 to surpass those of the previous 10 years combined.