The FBI has recovered $23 million in Bitcoin that Colonial Pipeline paid during a hacking attack it was the victim of.
In total, the Justice Department seized 63.7 bitcoin that had been paid last 8 May.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco for the US Department of Justice said:
“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools we have. 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. We will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. Today’s announcements also demonstrate the value of early notification to law enforcement; we thank Colonial Pipeline for quickly notifying the FBI when they learned that they were targeted by DarkSide.”
FBI Director Paul Abbate added:
“There is no place beyond the reach of the FBI to conceal illicit funds that will prevent us from imposing risk and consequences upon malicious cyber actors. We will continue to use all of our available resources and leverage our domestic and international partnerships to disrupt ransomware attacks and protect our private sector partners and the American public”.
Stephanie Hinds, acting US Attorney for the Northern District of California said:
“Cyber criminals are employing ever more elaborate schemes to convert technology into tools of digital extortion. We need to continue improving the cyber resiliency of our critical infrastructure across the nation, including in the Northern District of California. We will also continue developing advanced methods to improve our ability to track and recover digital ransom payments”.
Colonial Pipeline, the ransomware attack using bitcoin
The news of the ransomware attack involving bitcoin against Colonial Pipeline had received a lot of attention as the pipeline networks had been blocked for days, causing problems with fuel supplies in the United States.
The CEO of Colonial Pipeline admitted that he had paid $4.4 million in bitcoin to unlock the system and prevent the country from being paralyzed.
A total of 75 bitcoin had been paid to a Russian hacker network known as DarkSide. For them, it was the biggest heist ever.
They certainly left their mark, at least for bringing the fuel distribution network in the United States to its knees. The episode also provoked a diplomatic crisis (the umpteenth) between the US and Russia.