DoJ recovers 'majority' of ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline

63.7 Bitcoins worth $2.3 million have been seized after a warrant was authorized by judge

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has recovered 63.7 Bitcoins ($2.3 million) paid out by Colonial Pipeline to the DarkSide ransomware gang. 

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said this "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," she said.

In a filed affidavit, the FBI said it was able to track multiple transfers of Bitcoin and identify 63.7 Bitcoins, representing the "majority" of the victim's ransom payment. This had been transferred to a specific address, for which the FBI had the "private key" to access this specific Bitcoin address.

A judge in San Francisco then approved the seizure of funds from this cryptocurrency address.

Colonial Pipeline previously admitted it had paid hackers $4.4 million to regain access to its systems after consulting experts who have dealt with the DarkSide hacking group.

Ilia Kolochenko, founder of ImmuniWeb, and a member of Europol Data Protection Experts Network told IT Pro that the seizure sends a message that the DoJ now has tolerance-zero for ransomware gangs.

"The seizure continues the previously announced efforts to combat surging ransomware and is likely to be a first palpable step to deter cybercriminals. Importantly, the DoJ will certainly need more funding to gradually expand its cybercrime prosecution unit (CCIPS) and foster interagency collaboration," he said. 

"Moreover, international cooperation is essential to curb surging ransomware attacks, including baseline cooperation with traditionally hostile jurisdictions. Otherwise, even though uncovered, the perpetrators will likely enjoy impunity due to missing extradition treaties with foreign jurisdictions."

Chris Grove, product evangelist at Nozomi Networks, added that the joint action and collaboration by the government and National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force is exactly what defenders are asking for.

"Defending against run-of-the-mill threats is affordable, and achievable. Some threats rise to a new level and must be dealt with differently. While it's great that the government recovered some of the $4.4 million paid by Colonial Pipeline, we can't lose sight of the fact that while Colonial is a happier ending story, there are dozens of victims we can also discuss who haven't fared as well. Not to mention 100s we know about, but can't discuss, and another 1,000 that we don't even know about," he said.

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Almost 70% of CISOs expect a ransomware attack
ransomware

Almost 70% of CISOs expect a ransomware attack

19 Oct 2021
Organizations warned of ransomware risk from smaller operators
ransomware

Organizations warned of ransomware risk from smaller operators

19 Oct 2021
Best ransomware removal tools
ransomware

Best ransomware removal tools

14 Oct 2021
Senator to introduce new bill to force ransomware payment disclosures
ransomware

Senator to introduce new bill to force ransomware payment disclosures

6 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox
Microsoft Windows

Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox

5 Oct 2021