U.S. authorities recover crypto ransom paid for ransomware attack

Members of a United States government task force were able to successfully seize more than $2 million worth of crypto that were used as ransom payment for a cyberattack at the Colonial Pipeline system.

Speaking at a press conference, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the task force was able to find and recapture millions of dollars worth of bitcoin associated with the Russia-based DarkSide hackers. The sum represents the majority of the $4.4 million ransom paid in light of the attack.

A U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California warrant later revealed the authorities were able to recover 63.7 bitcoins, worth roughly $2.3 million at the time.

A breakthrough victory

Monaco claimed this development is the first major operation for the task force’s mission to chase and pursue appropriate actions towards parties responsible for ransomware attacks.

The lawyer said it marks turning the tables on DarkSide hackers and by going after the entire ecosystem that fuels such cyber attacks and other forms of digital extortion, including criminal proceeds in the form of digital currencies.

“We will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the cost and the consequences of ransomware attacks,” said Monaco.

The damaging attack

Last month, the DarkSide cyber attack caused fuel shortages for a lot of people in the United States. Fortunately, Colonial was able to notify authorities about the attack and the task force was able to get involved immediately.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Deputy Associate Director Paul Abatte said the funds were recovered from a bitcoin wallet used to pay the ransom for the digital attack. However, the exact method used for the operation wasn’t revealed up to this time, leaving some experts to just speculate as to how the hack was carried out.

 

Image courtesy of Cointelegraph News/YouTube

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