$2.2 Million Of Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack Ransom Recovered By Justice Department
The U.S. government has successfully recovered $2.27 million of the $4.4 million ransom payment paid by Colonial Pipeline to the Russian hacking ring DarkSide. Colonial Pipeline, one of the East Coasts’ largest fuel suppliers, was attacked in early May and lost control of its files for about a week until it paid off the hackers.
This is the first successful financial recovery made by the new ransomware task force, Digital Extortion Task Force, at the Justice Department.
The federal government says it seized by court order $2.3 million of the ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline.
The FBI had the password to the hackers' Bitcoin account, @PeteWilliamsNBC reports.
“Today we turned the tables on DarkSide,” says Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) June 7, 2021
Ransomware is a type of attack in which a victim’s files are locked up by the perpetrator in exchange for money. It has been confirmed that the FBI had the attacker’s password to a bitcoin account in North Carolina by using the digital address provided by the attackers themselves when organizing the ransom with Colonial Pipeline.
In the past two months, there have been two major cyberattacks on American companies, first the Colonial Pipeline attack in May and in early June the attack on meat-producer JBS.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, compared the current spate of cyberattacks to the issues posed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “There are a lot of parallels, there’s a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention,” Wray told the Wall Street Journal.
This victory helps reinforce a message federal officials have been pushing for some time: companies need to collaborate with government investigations to have a chance against future ransomware attacks. “There’s a shared responsibility, not just across government agencies but across the private sector and even the average American,” Wray said.
President Joe Biden is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva next week. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Biden will speak to other leaders at the meeting who “have similar concerns.”