DarkSide Ransomware Group Forced to Shut Down After Servers and Bitcoin Coffers Seized

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in News May 19, 2021

 According to multiple sources this week, the notorious hacker gang dubbed DarkSide has decided to close up shop after their servers were seized and someone drained their cryptocurrency account.

What Happened?

Last week reports flooded the internet about the hacker group named DarkSide, who had shut down Colonial Pipeline, causing a ripple effect of fuel shortages and spiked prices. On May 14, news broke that a subsidiary of Toshiba was also the victim of the DarkSide hacker gang.

Thursday evening, the DarkSide group posted a message on their “wall of shame” website claiming they were shutting down their ransomware-as-a-service operation.

As first reported by threat assessors Intel 471, the message said,

“A couple of hours ago, we lost access to the public part of our infrastructure, in particular to the blog, payment server, CDN servers. At the moment, these servers cannot be accessed via SSH, and the hosting panels have been blocked.” They stated that “Also, a few hours after the withdrawal, funds from the payment server (ours and clients’) were withdrawn to an unknown address.”

After being attacked, Colonial Pipeline did pay the group a $5 million ransom. According to the Elliptic research firm, DarkSide did receive it. Tom Robinson, Elliptic’s co-founder, said, “Based on our intelligence collection and analysis of blockchain transactions, this wallet received the 75 BTC [bitcoin] payment made by Colonial Pipeline on May 8, following the crippling cyberattack on its operations - leading to widespread fuel shortages in the U.S.”

Additionally, the group is offering all of its affiliates decoder keys to provide to victims who have not paid any ransom. The group also promised to pay their affiliates for any lost ransom income. The group said this “In view of the above, and due to the pressure from the U.S., the affiliate program is closed. Stay safe and good luck,” the gang stated in its posting, Intel 471 reports. “The landing page, servers, and other resources will be taken down within 48 hours.”

What Do the Experts Think?

Reports circulated that the members of DarkSide are Russian but not connected to the Russian government. President Biden confirmed this in a statement to the press last week.

KrebsonSecurity mentioned that the message appears to come from the leader of the REvil gang and that rumors abound that some members of the DarkSide link back to REvil.

According to Intel 471, they believe however that ransomware has gotten a bad reputation within the hacker communities, and these groups are trying to distance themselves from the bad press. According to KrebsonSecurity, “However, a strong caveat should be applied to these developments: it’s likely that these ransomware operators are trying to retreat from the spotlight more than suddenly discovering the error of their ways,” Intel 471 wrote. “A number of the operators will most likely operate in their own close-knit groups, resurfacing under new names and updated ransomware variants. Additionally, the operators will have to find a new way to ‘wash’ the cryptocurrency they earn from ransoms. Intel 471 has observed that BitMix, a popular cryptocurrency mixing service used by Abaddon, DarkSide, and REvil, has allegedly ceased operations. Several apparent customers of the service reported they were unable to access BitMix in the last week.”

It remains to be seen whether or not the affiliates will return control back to the victims and release their files. Have we seen the last of DarkSide? Probably not. What typically happens when a group disbands, is that the members go off to join another hacker allegiance and continue on their path of destruction.

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