The US government is offering a $10M reward for DarkSide ransomware hackers
The US Department of State is stepping up its game in the fight against ransomware by offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that leads to the identification or tracking down of the renowned DarkSide ransomware group’s leaders.
The State Department is currently offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of anybody “conspiring to engage in or trying to participate in a DarkSide variant ransomware event,” according to the State Department. This is most likely a reference to the group’s affiliate scheme, in which members get a customised version of the DarkSide ransomware and a cut of any ransom payment proceeds.
The State Department stated, “By paying this reward, the United States underscores its commitment to defending ransomware victims throughout the world from thieves’ abuse.” “The United States looks to countries harbouring ransomware perpetrators who are prepared to bring justice to ransomware victims’ companies and organisations.”
According to the State Department, the prize was established in response to DarkSide’s attack on Colonial Pipeline earlier this year, which resulted in the shutdown of a 5,500-mile pipeline that transports 45 percent of the petroleum consumed on the east coast of the United States.
After its computers were compromised, the group went silent and was renamed as BlackMatter, which went on to assault Japanese technology firm Olympus in September as well as “several” organisations designated important infrastructure, including two corporations in the US food and agricultural sector. Due to pressure from law enforcement authorities, BlackMatter announced this week that it would also stop operations.
The $10 million prize is part of the Department of State’s Transnational Organized Criminal Rewards Program (TOCRP), which it runs with federal law enforcement partners to disrupt and destroy transnational crime syndicates. Since its inception in 1986, the State Department has handed out $135 million in awards.
It’s the latest in a long series of initiatives by the Biden administration to combat the rising menace of ransomware. Suex, a virtual currency exchange, was recently sanctioned by the Treasury Department for its role in enabling ransomware payments.