FBI Seizes Cryptocurrency Used To Pay The Hackers From The Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

This is a first. The FBI announced yesterday that they have seized cryptocurrency that is valued at $2.3 million that apparently came from the ransom paid to the hackers behind the Colonial pipeline cyberattack:

US investigators have recovered millions in cryptocurrency they say was paid in ransom to hackers whose attack prompted the shutdown of the key East Coast pipeline last month, the Justice Department announced Monday. 

The announcement confirms CNN’s earlier reporting about the FBI-led operation, which was carried out with cooperation from Colonial Pipeline, the company that fell victim to the ransomware attack in question. 

Specifically, the Justice Department said it seized approximately $2.3 million in Bitcoins paid to individuals in a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide. The FBI said it has been investigating DarkSide, which is said to share its malware tools with other criminal hackers, for over a year. 

The ransom recovery, which is the first seizure undertaken by the recently created DOJ digital extortion taskforce, is a rare outcome for a company that has fallen victim to a debilitating cyberattack in the booming criminal business of ransomware.

And:

“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful, tools we have,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday during the DOJ announcement, which followed CNN’s reporting about the recovery operation. “Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine, and today’s announcement demonstrates that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises.”

The seizure warrant was authorized through the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.”The extortionists will never see this money,” acting US Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California said at the news conference at the Justice Department Monday. “New financial technologies that attempt to anonymize payments will not provide a curtain from behind which criminals will be permitted to pick the pockets of hardworking Americans.”

I have to applaud the FBI here as I have never heard of law enforcement being able to pull off something like this. Perhaps that should serve as a warning to the scumbags behind these cyberattacks that they may not get paid. That still should not stop companies to doing their level best to stop these attacks by having their IT security on point.

One Response to “FBI Seizes Cryptocurrency Used To Pay The Hackers From The Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack”

  1. […] enforcement action, especially against those who backed by nation states like China and Russia. And more moves like the one the FBI did the other day to go after the proceeds of these crimes. Actions like those will turn the tide on this issue. Paying them is not the […]

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