The US State Department on Thursday announced a $10 million reward for information on the leaders of a notorious ransomware group accused of extorting more than $100 million from hospitals, schools and other victims in the US around the world.
The State Department also offered $5 million for information that leads to an arrest or conviction of the alleged cybercriminals. It’s part of a long-running State Department bounty program that offers big sums of cash for information on the world’s most dangerous cybercriminals.
The focus of Thursday’ announcement was a transnational ransomware group known as Hive that the FBI infiltrated last year. The FBI has said it had access to Hive’s computer systems for several months and managed to prevent $130 million in ransom payments from victims.
One ransomware attack using Hive malicious software, in August 2021, forced a US hospital in the Midwest to turn away patients as Covid-19 surged, according to the Justice Department.
Despite an ongoing battle by the US government to put a dent in the lucrative business of ransomware, cybercriminals extorted a record $1.1 billion in ransom payments from victims
Other reported US Hive victims include a 314-bed hospital in Louisiana. The hospital said it thwarted a ransomware attack in October, but that the hackers still stole personal data on nearly 270,000 patients.
The ransomware epidemic grew more urgent for US officials after Colonial Pipeline, the major pipeline operator for sending fuel to the East Coast, shut down for days in May 2021 due to a ransomware attack from a suspected Russian cybercriminal. The disruption led to long lines at gas stations in multiple states as people hoarded fuel.
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