The Strategist

US DOJ returns $2.3m from Colonial Pipeline ransom to hackers

06/08/2021 - 04:06

The US Department of Justice was able to recover $2.3 million paid to cryptocurrency hackers following an attack on the operator of the US Colonial Pipeline.

In May, hackers from DarkSide encrypted a significant amount of the pipeline operator's commercial data and demanded a ransom for decryption.

"The Department of Justice seized 63.7 bitcoins, valued at approximately $2.3 million, believed to be part of the ransom given to DarkSide extortionists in the attack on Colonial Pipeline," according to the DOJ website.

Earlier, Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount claimed that the company had paid $4.4 million in cryptocurrency to the extortionists. Meanwhile, research firm Elliptic reported that Colonial Pipeline's ransom was around $5 million.

Colonial Pipeline provides about 45% of gasoline and diesel supplies to the US East Coast from refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, the company has suspended supplies since 7 May due to a hacking attack, leaving many gas stations in several US states without gasoline. 

US President Joe Biden said the Russian authorities were not behind the attack, but the hackers who carried out the attack may live in Russia. On 13 May, Colonial Pipeline fully restored pipeline operations.