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$2.3 million dollars worth of bitcoins recovered from ransomware attack

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U.S authorities have managed to recover millions of dollars in cryptocurrency, that was paid in ransom to the Colonial Pipeline Hackers.

Last month, America’s key East Coast gas pipeline was taken offline by a Russian hacker group known as “Darkside”.

The investigation was led by the FBI, in association with Colonial, and the Justice Department is expected to provide more details on the matter in the next few hours

“Earlier today, the Department of Justice has found and recaptured the majority of the ransom Colonial paid to the DarkSide network in the wake of last month’s ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks are always unacceptable — but when they target critical infrastructure, we will spare no effort in our response,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference on Monday afternoon local time.

“Today, we turned the tables on DarkSide,”

“By going after the entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital extortion attacks, including criminal proceeds in the form of digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools, and all of our resources to increase the cost and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks.”

Colonial initially complied with the $4.4 million ransom demand, due to the impact of the outage, and the uncertainty surrounding when operations would be able to resume.

However, behind closed doors, it’s now apparent that the company was working hand-in-hand with the FBI, to track the cryptocurrency wallet used by the hackers.

The full amount of the seizure from DarkSide, DOJ officials said Monday, was 63.7 bitcoins valued at approximately $2.3 million.

This follows previous reports that U.S officials were looking for holes in the hackers’ operations so they could identify the group behind the attack.

US to treat ransomware attacks with same priority as terrorism

After the cyberattack, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity defences across the US.

Earlier reports found that internal guidance sent to U.S. attorney’s offices across the America stated information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.

“It’s a specialised process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country,”

SAID JOHN CARLIN, PRINCIPLE ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL AT THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT.

The cyber hack caused a shutdown lasting several days, led to a spike in gas prices, panic buying and localised fuel shortages in the southeast. 

Joseph Blount is the CEO of the Colonial Pipeline. He told the Wall Street Journal the ransom was a “highly controversial decision”. But he conceded it “was the right thing to do for the country”.

The 8,900 kilometre pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day, or 45 percent of the east coast’s supply of critical fuel supplies.

William is an Executive News Producer at TICKER NEWS, responsible for the production and direction of news bulletins. William is also the presenter of the hourly Weather + Climate segment. With qualifications in Journalism and Law (LLB), William previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) before moving to TICKER NEWS. He was also an intern at the Seven Network's 'Sunrise'. A creative-minded individual, William has a passion for broadcast journalism and reporting on global politics and international affairs.

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