The US government wants to close the DarkSide ransomware operation and its rebrands, and it’s offering up to a $10 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of any individuals who holds the group leader position.
In addition, the Department is also offering a reward offer of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual conspiring to participate in a DarkSide variant ransomware incident.
The State Department reported that ,”By offering the reward, the US demonstrates its commitment to protecting ransomware victims all over the world from cyber criminal exploitation.
The DarkSide ransomware group was responsible for the Colonial Pipeline Company ransomware incident in May 2021, which prompted the company to proactively and temporarily shut down the 5,500-mile pipeline, which transports 45 percent of the fuel used on the United States’ East Coast. The United States looks to countries that harbour ransomware criminals and are willing to bring justice to those businesses and organisations that have been affected by ransomware.
This reward is available through the Department of State’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP).
“The Department manages the TOCRP in close collaboration with our federal law enforcement partners as part of a larger government effort to disrupt and dismantle transnational organised crime around the world including cybercrime.”
The department concluded that Since 1986, the TOCRP and the NRP have brought to justice more than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers. To date, the Department has paid out more than $135 million in rewards.
“The Department manages the TOCRP in close coordination with our federal law enforcement partners as part of a whole of government effort to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized crime globally, including cybercrime. More than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers have been brought to justice under the TOCRP and the Narcotics Rewards Program (NRP) since 1986. The Department has paid more than $135 million in rewards to date.” reads the blogpost.
The US government expects that by offering such large rewards, hackers will turn on each other and receive a legal, stress-free payout.