The successful seizure could encourage other victims to better cooperate with federal agencies and cause ransomware gangs to rethink their operations.
The Justice Department announced yesterday that it had seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at approximately $2.3 million that allegedly represents some portion of a May 8 payment by the Colonial Pipeline company to DarkSide ransomware attackers. Colonial Pipeline admitted paying the cybercriminals a total ransom of around $4.4 million in bitcoin to restore full functionality to its systems following the crippling ransomware attack announced by the company on May 7.
The Special Prosecutions Section and Asset Forfeiture Unit of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California seized the bitcoin wallet after a magistrate judge for the Northern District of California authorized a seizure warrant. News of the wallet seizure came as little surprise given that the DarkSide attackers themselves foreshadowed it when they announced in mid-May that the group lost control over some of its servers, including a payment server, and was shutting down due to “pressure” from the United States. At that time, DarkSide also stated that some of its funds had been withdrawn to an unknown account.
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