United States officials recover $2.3M in crypto from Colonial Pipeline ransom


The cyberattack was a significant one in the US because Colonial operates the largest refined-products pipeline in the country, which spans more than 5,500 miles and transports more than 100 million gallons, or 2.5 million barrels, of fuel a day to consumers from Houston to the New York Harbor. They also operate in a decentralized network.

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said DarkSide produces ransomware that it sells to hackers who conduct cyberattacks and share a percentage of their proceeds with the malware's developers.

But the difficulties of taking down ransomware gangs and other cybercriminals have always been clear. It is not, however, the first time the government has been able to recover digital currencies paid as ransom to cybercriminals.

"The threat of severe ransomware attacks pose a clear and present danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders and to your long-term success", Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said during a press conference Monday.

The Department of Transportation issued an emergency order, allowing truckers supplying fuel in affected states to work longer hours than federal rules normally allow.

Colonial Pipeline, the target of DarkSide's May 7 attack, is the top fuel pipeline operator in the US, responsible for about half of the fuel supply for the East Coast.

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount first said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal that about $4.4 million in cryptocurrency was paid to free the company's systems.

In her remarks, Monaco issued a warning to US companies about the threat to their operations.

The Biden administration is under increasing pressure to do something about the epidemic of ransomware attacks.

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The answer is that there are numerous technological, legal and diplomatic hurdles to going after ransomware gangs. DarkSide's product is one of about 100 ransomware variants the FBI is investigating, Abbate said. Many of them are not really hiding. Evgeniy Bogachev, indicted almost a decade ago for what prosecutors say was a wave of cyber bank thefts, lives in a Russian resort town and "is known to enjoy boating" on the Black Sea, according to the FBI's wanted listing. "The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation were instrumental in helping us to understand the threat actor and their tactics".

Darkside was also reportedly behind the huge ransomware attack against Fort Mill, S.C. -based CompuCom, No. 46 on the 2021 CRN Solution Provider 500, that's expected to cost the Office Depot subsidiary more than $20 million.

The White House has been vague about whether it plans to use offensive cyber measures against ransomware gangs.

"We turned the tables on DarkSide", said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, describing the seizure as a "significant development". U.S. Cyber Command has launched offensive operations related to election security, including against Russian misinformation officials during U.S. midterm elections in 2018.

In early May, Colonial Pipeline was the victim of a highly publicized ransomware attack resulting in the company taking portions of its infrastructure out of operation, according to the Justice Department.

CNN broke news Monday that USA investigators recovered "millions" in an FBI-led operation. Cybercriminals have also begun to increasingly operate within the borders of US adversaries, particularly Russian Federation. Putin has denied knowing about or being involved in ransomware attacks.In another episode, Brazilian-based JBS SA, the world's largest meat processor, restarted beef production last week after a ransomware attack forced it to halt operations across the globe. Hackers have targeted vital industries, as well as hospitals and police departments. Experts believe it's the worst ransomware attack against a USA -based law enforcement agency.

"We are not afraid of anyone", the hackers wrote in a message.

What do you think of the recent cyber attacks?

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