The Department of Justice announced the seizure of roughly $2.3 million of the $4 million paid in ransom to the DarkSide ransomware gang that had occurred from the attack against Colonial Pipeline’s networks.
The attack occurred on May 7th when Colonial Pipeline realized it was unable to restore its computer systems. They went ahead and paid the ransom in exchange for decryption key to reboot the system. Several law enforcement agencies including the FBI were called in to help mitigate the attack.
Colonial Pipeline had received a ransom demand for 75 bitcoins. Eventually, the FBI with its technology was able to track several address locations of different transfers of Bitcoin.
The seizure warrant was authorized earlier today by the Honorable Laurel Beeler, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California.
“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools we have,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco for the U.S. Department of Justice. “Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine, and today’s announcement demonstrates that the United States will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises. We will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. Today’s announcements also demonstrate the value of early notification to law enforcement; we thank Colonial Pipeline for quickly notifying the FBI when they learned that they were targeted by DarkSide.”
The Task Force prioritizes the disruption, investigation, and prosecution of ransomware and digital extortion activity by tracking and dismantling the development and deployment of malware, identifying the cybercriminals responsible, and holding those individuals accountable for their crimes. The Task Force also strategically targets the ransomware criminal ecosystem as a whole and collaborates with domestic and foreign government agencies as well as private sector partners to combat this significant criminal threat.