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The modern day Robin Hood

Matt Jones

IT Director
21/10/2020

Tales from old English folklore spoke of a man and his band of merry men, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. They ambushed carriages and raided castles for gold and jewellery, to help people who were struggling in towns of poverty. He was a highly skilled archer and swordsman, who’s fictional stories have lived on for centuries.

Crime has changed a lot since these tales were told, for starters, it’s rare you see men carrying bows and arrows on their backs in the street wielding swords. Crime has in fact moved predominantly online, as cybercrime continues to rise across the globe and authorities struggle to battle it.

Modern day Robin Hood?

Recently a hacker group posted blogs on the dark web admitting to stealing large amounts of money from large corporations. This is strangely not uncommon, however, what is uncommon about this particular post is how they have boasted to donating large chunks of their stolen money to charities. Have we been introduced to the modern day Robin Hood?

Who are they?

A group of hackers who identify themselves as Darkside, claim to have extorted millions of dollars from large corporations using ransomware, and want to use the money to help “make the world a better place”.

They added two screenshots of Bitcoin receipts worth around $10,000 dollars which were donated to two charities. Children International, who support children, families and communities across the globe, have said that they will not be keeping the money.

"If the donation is linked to a hacker, we have no intention of keeping it".

In the blog post, Darkside claim to only target large profitable organisations with their ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data on a device, making it unusable until a ransom has been paid. Paying the ransom does not always decrypt your data, and it is advised that victims of ransomware attacks do not pay the ransom.

"We think that it's fair that some of the money the companies have paid will go to charity. No matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped changed someone's life. Today we sended (sic) the first donations."

Brett Callow, Threat Analyst at cyber-security company Emsisoft, had this to say:

 "What the criminals hope to achieve by making these donations is not at all clear. Perhaps it helps assuage their guilt? Or perhaps for egotistical reasons they want to be perceived as Robin Hood-like characters rather than conscienceless extortionists. Whatever their motivations, it's certainly a very unusual step and is, as far as I know, the first time a ransomware group has donated a portion of their profits to charity."

Security firms have been investigating the mysterious group, who appear to be rather new in the cyber-crime industry. However analysis has found that they are actively extorting funds and that they may have links to other cyber-criminal groups responsible for high-profile attacks on companies including Travelex, which was crippled in January 2020.

It’s safe to say that Darkside are not the modern day Robin Hood. They hide behind computers, which is not as cool as the high trees of Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest, and their acts, although not violent, do not hold the same level of moral.

They may donate their stolen money to charity, but they still overall steal for their own profit and greed!

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