US DOJ: Has recovered most of the bitcoin ransom given to hackers, worth $2.3 million

On June 7, local time, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had recovered the ransom money.

In May, Colonial Pipeline, a major U.S. pipeline operator, was hit by a cyber attack and paid a ransom of 75 bitcoins (then worth $4.4 million, or about $28.14 million) to hackers. On June 7, local time, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had recovered the ransom money.

According to an Associated Press report on June 7, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said investigators recovered 63.7 bitcoins paid by Clonier Pipeline Transportation, accounting for about 85 percent of the total payment. The report said the bitcoins are now worth about $2.3 million (about $14.71 million) as the price of bitcoins has fallen. Monaco said in a news release, “We will continue to use all of our resources to increase our research into defending against ransomware attacks.”

As previously reported by Xinhua, in May of this year, the Coloniair Pipeline Transportation Company was hit by a ransomware attack. The FBI investigation found that the ransomware attack was launched by a cybercrime group called “DarkSide. “DarkSide hacked into the Clonier Pipeline transportation company’s network to obtain a large amount of data, and threatened to pay a ransom for the latter. The Associated Press reported that this was the most serious cyber attack on U.S. critical infrastructure to date. According to statistics, in the past three years, “the dark side” has launched a number of cyber attacks, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.

Deputy Director of the FBI Paul Abbate said that the ransomware used by the “dark side” has been the subject of investigation by law enforcement agencies since last year, and at least 90 U.S. companies have been victims of the group. Clonier Pipeline Transportation has since thanked the FBI and said it will hold the hackers accountable, take cyber threats seriously and invest accordingly to strengthen its defenses.

The Associated Press reported that the operation was the first since the U.S. Department of Justice created a task force dedicated to tackling ransomware, and reflects a rare victory for the U.S. government in dealing with the ransomware threat.

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