Government officials announced Monday that they have acquired some of the ransom payment given to hackers after the recent shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline caused massive fuel shortages across the country.
The task to retrieve the cryptocurrency from the Eastern European hacker group, DarkSide, is the first one carried out by a specialized ransomware task force formed by the Biden administration Justice Department, per the Associated Press.
“By going after an entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the costs and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday at a news conference.
“Following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful, tools we have,” Monaco said, per CNN. “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.”
“The seizure warrant was authorized through the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California,” CNN noted.
The Justice Department said that it recovered around $2.3 million in Bitcoins paid to DarkSide. Colonial Pipeline officials have said that they paid approximately $4.4 million in ransom.
“The extortionists will never see this money,” acting US Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California said at the news conference. “New financial technologies that attempt to anonymize payments will not provide a curtain from behind which criminals will be permitted to pick the pockets of hardworking Americans.”
Last month, Colonial Pipeline Co. CEO Joseph Blount said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that “he authorized the ransom payment of $4.4 million because executives were unsure how badly the cyberattack had breached its systems, and consequently, how long it would take to bring the pipeline back.”
The company had informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the hack and followed directions that assisted authorities in locating the payment, as reported by CNN.
As The Daily Wire reported on May 12, a “cyber attack forced the closure of the 5,500-mile pipeline, which moves more than 100 million gallons of fuel from Texas to New Jersey every day — nearly 50% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.”
“The Biden administration had, at one point, suggested that Colonial Pipeline pay a ransom to the cyberattackers, but Wednesday afternoon, the president admitted that the White House had been in contact with Colonial and was working on the problem, according to USA Today,” The Daily Wire reported.
Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to mock a reporter who asked about the increase in hacking that has taken place in recent months.
“…these hackers based in Russia have disrupted American gas supplies and American meat supplies,” Fox News reporter Peter Doocy said. “Why do you think that these ransomware attacks have been rising since President Biden took office?”
“Well, first, I would say these are private sector entities who have a responsibility to put in place measures to protect their own cybersecurity,” Psaki said. “As it relates to why criminal actors are taking actions against private sector entities, I don’t think I’m the right one to speak to that.”
“So, a total coincidence?” Doocy asked.
“I think you could certainly go track down those cyber criminals in Russia and have a good chat with them,” Psaki responded.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.