Found Your Wallet
On Monday, US law officials said they recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency paid to cybercriminals in the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. Last month, Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the US, paid 75 bitcoins, or $4.4 million in ransom, to an affiliate of the Russia-linked hacker group known as “DarkSide.” It was the most significant cyberattack against an oil company in US history.
Since Colonial Pipeline paid the hackers in Bitcoin, many people wondered whether they’d be able to recover the ransom or not. Criminals often use cryptocurrencies as their preferred medium of exchange due to the perceived anonymity of digital currencies like Bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions are not linked to a single person or identity; they are linked to an address. So how was US law enforcement able to track down the wallet that the Bitcoin address was linked to and recover nearly 64 bitcoins paid in ransom?
On Monday, an FBI filing said law enforcement possessed a private key to open a bitcoin wallet that had received most of the ransom. However, it’s unknown how the FBI got their hands on the key.
Bitcoin seizures are incredibly uncommon, but as cryptocurrencies grow more prominent every day, the White House is fighting to improve cybersecurity systems in response to the assets growing involvement in financial crimes such as ransomware.
I am not a financial advisor and my comments should never be taken as financial advice. Investments come with risk, so always do your research and analysis beforehand.