The pipeline operators paid the ransom to hacker group DarkSide last month after a cyberattack shut down its operations, sparking fears of a petrol shortage across the Eastern US
US officials have recovered millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin from a ransom paid to hackers by the operator of the Colonial Pipeline following a cyberattack last month.
On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it has seized around 63.7 Bitcoins, worth around US$2.3mln, which it said represent the proceeds of a payment made by Colonial to a hacker group known as DarkSide, which conducted a cyberattack against the pipeline causing widespread disruption to fuel transportation across the Eastern US, sparking fears of a petrol shortage.
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The DOJ said it was able to track the ransom funds using Bitcoin’s public ledger, or blockchain, to a specific wallet address which was then seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“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,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a statement.
“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,” added FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.
In early trading in London on Tuesday, Bitcoin was down 8.8% in the last 24 hours at US$32,942.