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U.S. offers $10M reward for information on DarkSide hackers

U.S. offers $10M reward for information on DarkSide hackers
DarkSide's ransomware attack targeting Colonial Pipeline in May forced the Georgia-based company to shutdown its pipeline to the east coast, disrupting gas supplies. On Thursday, the State Department announced a reward of $10 million for information on the leaders of the transnational cybercriminal group. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The State Department has announced a reward of up to $10 million for information on the leaders of the ransomware cybercriminal gang that attacked Colonial Pipeline in the spring, disrupting fuel supply for the eastern United States.

State Department spokesman Ned Price announced the reward Thursday in a statement, saying it was also offering up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who conspires to participate in a DarkSide ransomware attack.

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"In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cybercriminals," he said. "The United States looks to nations who harbor ransomware criminals that are willing to bring justice for those victim businesses and organizations affected by ransomware."

Ransomware, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is malware designed to encrypt files on a device, making it unusable. The threat actors then demand a ransom in exchange for decryption.

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President Joe Biden has been pushing to crackdown on cybercriminals as a number of high-profile incidents by both transnational criminal gangs and state actors starting late last year and continuing into this year brought the issue to the forefront of his administration.

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Among those incidents includes a ransomware attack against the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline in May that forced the company to shutdown its 5,500-mile pipeline that transports 45% of the east coast's fuel.

The FBI identified those responsible as Russian cybergang DarkSide, and the federal CyberSecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued guidance to companies to defend their networks against similar intrusions.

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Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million in cryptocurrency to DarkSide in order to restart its operations, but in June, the Justice Department said it was able to recover $2.3 million of the ill-gotten proceeds.

The attacks also prompted Biden in June to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of 16 infrastructure sites that if targeted the United States would respond.

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