(Washington) The United States announced Thursday that it is offering a reward of $10 million for any information that helps track down the leaders of the DarkSide ransomware hacker group.
Washington accused the Russia-based group of being behind the cyber attack that crippled Colonial Pipeline, a major network of refined product pipelines in the United States, a few months ago.
Ransomware, or “ransomware,” exploits vulnerabilities in a company or individual to encrypt and block computer systems, and demands a ransom to unlock them.
“By presenting this award, the United States demonstrates its commitment to preventing ransomware victims around the world from exploiting cybercriminals,” the US State Department said in a statement.
Washington also offered $5 million for information leading to the arrest or indictment in any country of anyone attempting to participate in an attack on the side of DarkSide.
Will this financial promise take effect? Some cybersecurity experts doubt this.
“In the absence of a bounty hunter willing to go to court (a hacker, editor’s note) and put his unconscious body in a bag and put it in the nearest US embassy, I doubt this would have much effect,” says John Bampnik of the computer company Netenrich.
“Honestly,” he adds, offering this award “wouldn’t hurt either.”
Composed, according to experts, of seasoned cybercriminals, DarkSide steals confidential data from victim companies, often based in Western countries, and demands money to “return them”.
Internet crimes are on the increase. According to new data released in October, $590 million in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021.
The number is 42% higher than the amount disclosed by financial institutions for the whole of 2020, according to a US Treasury report, and there are strong indications that the true cost may be in the billions.
Companies and institutions are under intense pressure to withdraw their wallets to open their data, but also not to disclose the attack to their customers and authorities who have issued stern warnings against paying criminals.
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