Wanted: Pipeline Hackers - $10m Reward

The criminal hacking group known as DarkSide, which the FBI has previously said is based in Russia, is being actively hunted by the US Government. The US State Department is offering up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of senior members of a Russian-speaking ransomware gang known as DarkSide that hacked Colonial Pipeline.

An extra  $5 million reward is being offered for any information about people conspiring to participate with DarkSide in ransomware attacks. This is the latest step bt the US to put pressure on cyber criminals that have extorted millions of dollars from US companies and threatened critical infrastructure. 

In May, a DarkSide ransomware attack shut down a vital 5,500-mile-long fuel pipeline on the east coast of the US. The pipeline carries 45% of the fuel used on the east coast.The Colonial Pipeline operating company was forces to shut down its operations after the attack, causing widespread fuel shortages

President Biden subsequently appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against ransomware groups operating from Russia. 

The US Department said in a statement, “In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cyber criminals. The United States looks to nations who harbour ransomware criminals that are willing to bring justice for those victim businesses and organisations affected by ransomware.”

DarkSide is though to have extorted over $90 million in ransom payments from 47 victims, according to crypto-currency analysis company Elliptic, although the FBI was successful in recovering  the majority of the ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline, by seizing 63.7 Bitcoins before they could be extracted from US jursidiction.

The US government reward for information about DarkSide comes off the back of a recent law enforcement operation against the REvil ransomware gang, where the Tor servers associated with REvil were seized in what was called a ‘multi-country’ hack-back operation.

That operation was carried out by Ukraine's law enforcement and further arrests have been made in Ukraine in connection the Cl0p extortionist gang.

As the Biden administration pressures Russia to repress cyber criminal activity, US law enforcement and  international partners are pursuing suspects outside of Russia.A 38-year-old Russian man accused of being part of a cyber crime ring that infected US computers with ransomware was extradited from the South Korea to the US last month and now faces computer fraud charges in a US Federal court.

US State Dept:  AA.com:      CNN:    ErieNewsNow:     Silicon:       BBC:    Oodaloop:    FinTech Global:

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