DOJ: Most Bitcoin Recovered in Ransomware Attack on Colonial Pipeline
U.S. law enforcement on Monday announced that they have seized millions of dollars in cryptocurrency that was paid to a criminal cybergroup known as DarkSide by Colonial Pipeline after the attack on their systems last month.
Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount told The Wall Street Journal in May that he though he had to pay the ransom because he didn’t know how deeply the company’s systems had been infiltrated or how long it would take to get everything up and running again. The company paid about $4.4 million in ransom, most of which has since been recovered.
"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 during a news conference on Monday, according to ABC News.
"Today, we turned the tables on DarkSide," she said. "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."
Blount told the Journal last month, “I know that’s a highly controversial decision. I didn’t make it lightly. I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this. But it was the right thing to do for the country.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray added, "I don't want to suggest that this is the norm, but there have been instances where we've even been able to work with our partners to identify the encryption keys, which then would enable a company to actually unlock their data — even without paying the ransom.”
The company said in a statement at the time: "We needed to do everything in our power to restart the system quickly and safely. The decision was made to pay the ransom," the company said. "This decision was not made lightly, however, one that had to be made. Tens of millions of Americans rely on Colonial — hospitals, emergency medical services, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, airports, truck drivers and the traveling public. Our focus remains on continued operations to safely deliver refined products to communities we serve.”