DarkSide Ransomware Gang Paid $4.5m after Hacking Colonial Pipeline

  • .Ransomware criminals targeting public institutions as its practice continues to surge
  • What are ransomware attacks
  • Should ransomware payments be made illegal?

DarkSide ransomware criminal gang was paid nearly $4.5m last week after their hack forced Colonial Pipeline in the US to stop transporting fuel. According to a report by BBC, DarkSide has accumulated over 90m in Bitcoin since last August. Hackers demand payments in Bitcoin because it is untraceable and only leaves traces of amounts received and nothing else.

Ransomware criminals are Cyber-hackers who steal victims files, personal information, lock victims out of their computer systems to cause great disturbance or halt operatALJDion to make sure they get paid a ransom in exchange for decryption tools or access to the victims own system. When these ransomware criminals fail to force a ransom payment, stolen data is sometimes sold and because they have nothing to lose, they can also post the data on their websites for free. Data that can be used to engineer social engineering attacks.

Cyber-criminals hoping to get a huge payday are targeting government institutions, public service institutions as well as big companies such as airlines, schools, hospitals, and water treatment plants because they know there will be enormous pressure to restore services. However, experts are advising victims of such attacks not to pay these criminals as it will only breed more attacks.

The Irish health system was downed last Thursday by hackers known as the Conti group demanding $20 for restoration of services. The Irish government stood their ground and the group has since handed over the software tool for free because they operate by a code of not endangering lives.

According to a warning by the FBI in the US, 400 organizations have been targeted worldwide. As a solution to this growing worldwide threat, governments should be looking to make laws that make payments of ransomware illegal as they will only accelerate these attacks. Before that, governments should set aside a budget to help ransomware victims with resources and funds to withstand attacks to make sure that this catastrophic activity does not spiral out of control.