Ransomeware group Dark Side donates R312 000 to charities

BBC recently reported that a Ransomware group Dark Side posted a press release on a dark web portal, stating that they have donated $20 000 (312 000) worth of Bitcoin to two international charities.

The money totalling 0.88 Bitcoin was split between The Water Project and Children’s’ International. Thus each charity organisation received $10 000 (R156 000) in Bitcoin.

Dark Side’s donation: Here’s what we know

Donation through hacking

One of the Charities, Children International, have stated that they are investigating and if the donation is linked to hacking activities, then they do not want to keep the money.

Experts say this is an attempt for Dark Side to rebrand themselves as a corporation. But the R312 000 was Bitcoin stolen in ransomware, so the generous donation seems a little bit fishy.

Dark Side went on to say they only target profitable corporations or organisations, still donating money to charities will not sway public opinion or change the minds of law enforcement agencies since that was not their money to give off in the first place.

Modern ‘Robin Hood’

Dark Side have positioned themselves as a Robin Hood group (they take from the greedy corporations and give to the needy NPOs) in the ransomware industry to differentiate themselves.

We could see similar behaviour with other ransomware groups, not only Dark Side. The groups could be switching from targeting certain sectors to only targeting profitable corporations.

Targeting profitable corporations will lead to larger pay-out. We have started to see more groups saying they will not target government organisations, schools and hospitals.

Well, their claims do not match their actions as we have seen multiple of these sectors ransomed throughout this year.

Proceeds of crime

In terms of the Bitcoins donated, if a gift was found to be proceeds of a crime, then they would be considered unlawful should it be rejected by charity organisations, this according to the institute of fundraisers.

Brian Higgins, a Comparitech security specialist, explained that the group may be trying to test out a new method of laundering funds, but added the group “has too much times on their hands”.

“If they were really serious about ‘making the world a better place’ they’d all sell their laptops and stay off the internet.”

The news was originally shared by Eric Vanderburg, an author, speaker and trusted cybersecurity expert.

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