FBI seizes $2,3 millions in cryptocurrencies paid to extortionists in Colony Pipeline case

Paul M. Abbate, Deputy Director of the FBI reported on the seizure of 2,3 million dollars in bitcoin as a result of a cyber extortion to the Gaseoducto Colonial Pipeline company, happened last month. Photo: Courtesy FBI.

Maria T. Morales

The United States Department of Justice announced an operation that resulted in the seizure of 63,7 bitcoins valued at approximately 2,3 millions of dollars, allegedly the product of extortion from a gas pipeline company victim of a cyberattack that occurred last month.

These funds, supposedly represent the proceeds of a ransom payment made in the past 8 May to people of a group known as Dark Side, by Colonial Pipeline Company, which was the victim of a ransomware attack on its computer network.

Photo: Courtesy.

After the attack, the company stopped operating in part of its structure, for which he informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the attack and the demand for payment of at least 75 bitcoins in exchange for releasing the information.

Cybercriminals, they were immediately tracked for their bitcoin transfers, and the authorities were able to determine that at least 63.7 bitcoins, representing the victim's ransom payment, had been transferred to a specific account.

According to the official report, "The FBI has the private key or the rough equivalent of a password necessary to access the assets from the specific Bitcoin address"

Lisa O. Monaco, Deputy Attorney General, stated that "following the money is still one of the most basic and powerful tools we have", so he detailed it.

For the official, ransom payments are the fuel that powers the digital extortion engine, therefore, early notification to the authorities is essential to combat cybercriminals.