This is a strange new world that we live in, with a number of crimes being committed that don’t even take this is the physical dimension.
I’m talking about ransomware attacks, in which hackers take control of a sensitive computer network, at a hospital or a school system, for instance, and demand that some exorbitant ransom be paid in order to regain access.
Just a few weeks ago, members of one such ransomware group targeted the Colonial Pipeline, which provides approximately 45% of the east coast’s gasoline supply. Owners of the pipeline quickly paid the ransom, drawing criticism from those who believed that capitulation would create an open invitation for further ransomware attacks.
Now, as it turns out, the US government was able to recover at least some of the ransom.
The US has recovered most of the $4.4m (£3.1m) ransom paid to a cyber-criminal gang responsible for taking the Colonial Pipeline offline last month.
DarkSide – which US authorities said operates from eastern Europe and possibly Russia – infiltrated the pipeline last month.
The attack disrupted supplies for several days causing fuel shortages.
According to the firm, the pipeline carries 45% of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, petrol and jet fuel.
On Monday, Deputy Attorney-General Lisa Monaco said investigators had “found and recaptured” 63.7 Bitcoin worth $2.3m – “the majority” of the ransom paid. Since the ransom was paid the value of Bitcoin has fallen sharply.
This successful recovery is a rarity, and could help to deter future ransomware hackers from wreaking havoc on US infrastructure.