The announcement confirms CNN’s earlier reporting about the FBI-led operation, which was carried out with cooperation from Colonial Pipeline, the company that fell victim to the ransomware attack in question.
Specifically, the Justice Department said it seized approximately $2.3 million in Bitcoins paid to individuals in a criminal hacking group known as DarkSide. The FBI said it has been investigating DarkSide, which is said to share its malware tools with other criminal hackers, for over a year.
The ransom recovery, which is the first seizure undertaken by the recently created DOJ digital extortion taskforce, is a rare outcome for a company that has fallen victim to a debilitating cyberattack in the booming criminal business of ransomware.
Colonial Pipeline Co. CEO Joseph Blount told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published last month that the company complied with the $4.4 million ransom demand because officials didn’t know the extent of the intrusion by hackers and how long it would take to restore operations.
But behind the scenes, the company had taken early steps to notify the FBI and followed instructions that helped investigators track the payment to a