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State Department offering up to $10 million reward for information on leaders of DarkSide ransomware group


(WASHINGTON) — The State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information that could lead to the identification or location of those in leadership positions within the DarkSide ransomware group.

Authorities also announced that they’re offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction in any country of anyone conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in a DarkSide variant ransomware incident.

DarkSide was responsible for the high-profile cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline Company earlier this year, which resulted a multi-day shutdown of a conduit that carries approximately 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast.

“In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cyber criminals,” Ned Price, a State Department spokesperson, said in a statement Thursday.

Federal authorities have previously said they believe DarkSide operates out of Eastern Europe.

The Colonial Pipeline incident was seen as a display of how much power cyber criminals have seized in recent years, as they took aim at critical infrastructure. The company’s CEO admitted shortly after the incident that he had authorized a payment of some $4.3 million to DarkSide only hours after learning of the attacks, due to the uncertainty surrounding how long it would take to get the critical pipeline back online.

The Department of Justice later said it seized back approximately $2.3 million in Bitcoin from the alleged cyber criminals.

The saga came amid a spate of ransomware attacks, leveled at American firms big and small, leading the Biden administration to renew its commitment to developing more resilient cybersecurity infrastructure and seeking to improve government responses to such attacks.

The reward is being offered through the State Department’s Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which has dished out more than $135 million in rewards to date and brought more than 75 transnational criminals and major narcotics traffickers to justice, according to Price’s statement.

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