March 2, 2024
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US State Department has recently announces bounty up to $10 million to anyone who can provide the identity or location of the leaders of the group responsible an outfit known as DarkSide. The group which was responsible for a ransomware attack shut down a pipeline carrying 45 percent of the fuel used on the US East Coast.

In addition to the $10 million bounty, the state department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate in a DarkSide variant ransomware incident.

The offer is the latest example of the US using monetary rewards to try and fight serious cybercrime. These bounties are offered under the Rewards for Justice (RfJ) program, which was originally established in 1984 to target international terrorism.

The US evidently thinks cybercriminals now warrant the same level of attention and, in July, the State Department began offering bounties of up to $10 million through RfJ for information on individuals who participate in “malicious cyber activities against US critical infrastructure.

In May, DarkSide ceased all activities after the Colonial Pipeline incident. The group seemed caught off-guard by the magnitude of the attack, and even issued a formal apology for the social consequences of what they did. But according to US cybersecurity experts, members of the group may have simply rebranded as an outfit named BlackMatter, which appeared on the scene weeks after DarkSide dropped off the radar, wielding similar weapons and tactics. Presumably, the state department’s bounty will apply to them, too.

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