UPDATED 7:18 AM PT – Monday, June 8, 2021
U.S. investigators recovered millions of dollars of the ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline during last month’s ransomware attack. On Monday, Department of Justice officials stated they were able to retrieve a majority of the funds paid to the criminal cybergroup DarkSide.
The hackers shut down the largest pipeline in the U.S. and sent gas prices soaring on the East Coast due to widespread fuel shortages as well as panic buying. Colonial initially paid $4.4 million in cryptocurrency to DarkSide.
“The seizure announced today (Monday) was conducted as part of the department’s recently launched ransomware and digital extortion task force,” explained Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General for the DOJ. “Which was established to investigate, disrupt and prosecute ransomware and digital extortion activity.”
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) June 7, 2021
Officials confirmed they were able to recover about $2.3 million of those funds. While the FBI still discourages the payment of ransom demands, the DOJ hopes companies coming forward and working with law enforcement will continue to remedy these situations.
“The message we are sending today is that if you come forward and work with law enforcement, we may be able to take the type of action that we took today to deprive the criminal actors of what they’re going after here, which is the proceeds of their criminal scheme,” Monaco continued.
Joe Biden is expected to discuss the growing number of ransomware attacks, including those believed to be coming from Russia, with Vladimir Putin later this month.
In the meantime, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline will be taking the hot seat as he’s set to testify on Capitol Hill. Joseph Blount will testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday following last month’s ransomware attack that led the pipeline to temporarily halt operations.
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 8, 2021
The hearing comes one day after the DOJ announced it recovered the majority of the ransom payment the company made in the form of bitcoin.