US Authorities Issues $10m Bounty In The Hunt For Major US Pipeline Hackers

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US Authorities Issues $10m Bounty In The Hunt For Major US Pipeline Hackers

Mon, 11/08/2021 - 09:04
Hacker working with laptop (© Shutterstock/Maksim Shmeljov)
Hacker working with laptop (© Shutterstock/Maksim Shmeljov)

The US State Department, on Thursday, November 5, announced a $10 million bounty for information about DarkSide cybercrime group that targeted a major US oil conduit, Colonial Pipeline, leading to widespread fuel and gas shortages that affected some parts of southeastern US in May 2021.

The criminal group used high profile and sophisticated ransomware to bring the pipeline company's systems to a halt that lasted for several days.

In the latest effort to stop cybercrime and cyber-extortion by such criminal groups, the State Department has also offered a $5-million reward for information that could lead to the arrest or conviction of anyone who participated in the DarkSide ransomware attack.

According to the intelligence data gathered by the FBI, the Russia-based DarkSide hackers are responsible for the massive May cyberattack that targeted the US Colonial Pipeline, resulting in the companies temporary closure.

Following the devastating attack on Colonial Pipeline, the company reported having paid some $5 million worth in Bitcoin to the hackers' group to regain its systems. However, the US Justice Department recovered some $2.3 million ransom.  But, Colonial Pipeline wasn't the only victim of cyber-extortion.

In June, the world's leading meat processor, JBS, was hacked by a Russian cybercriminal gang known as REvil, forcing the meat processor to pay a total of $11 million ransom before regaining access to its system.

Cybercrime incidences have been on the rise since the pandemic gripped the world. Based on new data, a total of $590 million ransomware-related payments were reported to the US authority in the first half of 2021.

While it's believed the cost could hit billions, the US treasury report revealed the amount paid in the first quarter of 2021 was 40% higher than the total amount divulged throughout 2021.

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