US offers US$10m reward for DarkSide ransomware leaders

The US is also offering as much as US$5 million in reward money for helping to catch those who use DarkSide's ransomware. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The Biden administration is offering a reward of as much as US$10 million (S$13 million) for information that helps identify or track down leaders of the notorious DarkSide ransomware group, officials announced on Thursday (Nov 4).

US law enforcement has said the Russia-linked group is behind the ransomware attack that crippled Colonial Pipeline in May. The attack shut down a 8,000km-long pipeline that provides fuel to the East Coast, leading to gas shortages. The company ultimately paid the ransom.

The State Department said it is also offering as much as US$5 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction - in any country - of people "conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate" in an attack using DarkSide's ransomware.

Like many other ransomware groups, DarkSide offered its hacking tools to so-called affiliates, who could then stage their own attacks. Such schemes are known as ransomware-as-a-service.

In a June summit, President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Russian hackers should steer clear of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, which includes energy companies such as Colonial.

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