Moral dilemma as hackers make charitable donations

A GROUP of cyber-criminals says it has donated some of the money it extorted from large corporations to various charities.

The Darkside hacker group said in a recent post on the dark web that it wants “to make the world a better place” with money it has demanded from various companies. Darkside posted receipts for $10,000 in Bitcoin donations to two of the charities, Children International and The Water Project.

Children International offers community support in countries including India, Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Mexico and the US. It has already announced that it will not keep the money. Another “beneficiary” charity, She’s the First — a charity for girls’ education — has also indicated it would not accept an illegal donation.

The story, apparently broken by the BBC, has raised moral, ethical and legal questions. Darkside says its ransomware victims were “large profitable companies” whose IT systems were held hostage until a ransom was paid. “We think that it’s fair that some of the money the companies have paid will go to charity,” the group said in its announcement.

Relatively unknown Darkside has been proven to be active in cyber-crime, according to the BBC, and made the charity donations via a US-based service called The Giving Block. The Giving Block is used by non-profits around the world, including Save The Children and the Rainforest Foundation. It claims to be the only non-profit accepting cryptocurrency donations, and says that if the funds had been extorted they would be returned to the victims.

It is not clear if the donors or victims can be identified, but all cryptocurrency businesses are obliged have Anti-Money Laundering measures, including KYC and background checks, in place.