The US State Department announced Thursday it will pay up to $10 million for information on the identity or whereabouts of leaders of the Hive ransomware gang.
The agency also said it would offer a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any person in any country conspiring to participate in the activity of the Hive ransomware.
“Beginning in late July 2022, the FBI penetrated Hive’s computer networks, obtained its decryption keys, and offered them to victims around the world, saving victims from having to pay up to $130 million in ransoms demanded,” the State Department said in a statement.
Since 2021, Hive and its affiliates have targeted more than 1,500 institutions in more than 80 countries, including the United States, resulting in the theft of more than $100 million. Victims include school districts, financial companies and critical infrastructure.
The federal government’s lucrative reward for information comes two weeks after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the FBI hadseizing its servers in California after more than a year of spying on cybercriminals.
Ransomware groups like Hive design malware to infiltrate computer networks via a number of methods, including phishing emails, holding their users hostage, and demanding payment in exchange for security keys. decryption to unlock an organization’s systems.
In one case, Hive’s attack on a Midwest hospital disrupted care at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and forced facilities to pay a ransom before they could treat their patients, the Justice Department said .
Global ransomware payments surpassed the $1 billion mark last year after declining in 2022, according to data from Chainalysis. In the United States, more than 2,200 hospitals, schools and governments were directly affected by ransomware in 2023, along with thousands of private sector companies, security company Emsisoft said last week in a blog post .
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