The State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identify or location of people in charge of the DarkSide ransomware group’s leadership.
Authorities have also announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of anyone conspiring to participate in or attempt to participate in a DarkSide variant ransomware attack in any nation.
DarkSide was behind the high-profile hack on the Colonial Pipeline Company earlier this year, which resulted in the multi-day shutdown of a pipeline that transports roughly 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.
“By giving this reward, the United States underscores its commitment to defending ransomware victims all across the world from cyber criminals,” a State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said in a statement on Thursday.
DarkSide is believed to be based in Eastern Europe, according to federal investigators.
As cyber criminals targeted essential infrastructure, the Colonial Pipeline disaster was considered as a demonstration of how much power cyber criminals had gained in recent years. Due of the uncertainty around how long it would take to get the key pipeline back online, the company’s CEO confessed immediately after the incident that he had authorised a payment of $4.3 million to DarkSide only hours after learning of the attacks.
The Department of Justice later announced that the alleged cyber criminals had forfeited nearly $2.3 million in Bitcoin.
The tale unfolded amid a wave of ransomware assaults on both large and small businesses in the United States, prompting the Biden administration to reaffirm its commitment to building more resilient cybersecurity infrastructure and improving government responses to such attacks.
According to Price’s statement, the reward is being provided through the State Department’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which has handed out more than $135 million in rewards to date and brought to justice more than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers.