US State Department offers $10m reward on leads on ALPHV aka Blackcat ransomware

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The Department of State, in its ongoing efforts to combat cybercrime, has announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the apprehension of ALPHV, also known as the Blackcat Ransomware Gang. This significant bounty underscores the severity of the threat posed by such criminal organizations.

In addition to targeting the leaders of the Blackcat Gang, the Department of State is prepared to offer rewards for information regarding their affiliates, access brokers, and other associates. These rewards are part of the US Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program, which has disbursed over $135 million since its inception in 1986 to combat various forms of criminal activity, including cybercrime, narcotics trafficking, and child exploitation.

The decision to announce this reward comes in the wake of findings by the FBI linking the Blackcat Gang to more than 60 data breaches worldwide. These breaches involve the theft of sensitive information from servers, which is then encrypted by the hackers until a ransom in cryptocurrency is paid. It is estimated that the gang may have collected as much as $300 million in ransom payments from over 1,000 victims between December 2022 and September of the following year, with projections indicating a potential doubling of these figures in the current year.

Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies, apprehending such criminals presents significant challenges. Many operate from foreign jurisdictions, utilizing virtual private networks (VPNs) to conceal their online activities. Even when their whereabouts are identified, legal barriers in their home countries often impede extradition efforts.

Russia, for instance, has offered limited cooperation with American cybercrime investigators, with instances of disavowal being more common. Similarly, countries like China, North Korea, and Iran typically refrain from supporting international law enforcement efforts, exacerbating the difficulty of apprehending cybercriminals.

Furthermore, these criminal enterprises not only pose a direct threat through their cyber-attacks but also contribute to the funding of illicit activities, including nuclear proliferation efforts. The example of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime highlights the intersection of cybercrime and geopolitical instability, underscoring the urgent need for international cooperation in combating this growing threat to global security.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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