FEDS recovered $2.3million of the Bitcoin ransom paid to the Colonial Pipeline hackers DarkSide after a cyber attack that caused a widespread gas crisis.
The Justice Department announced on Monday that it had "found and recaptured" 63.7 Bitcoins paid by the Colonial Pipeline company.
Colonial said it paid hackers nearly $5million after the system disruption led to panic buying and a gas shortage along much of the East Coast last month.
The FBI identified DarkSide, a Russia-based cybercrime group, as the culprit behind the hacking.
An affidavit filed on Monday said the FBI has gotten access to a private key to unlock the Bitcoin wallet that had received the majority of the funds from Colonial, according to Reuters.
It's not clear how the bureau obtained access to the key, but a judge in San Francisco reportedly approved seizing the funds from this "cryptocurrency address."
"Today, we turned the tables on DarkSide," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Monday at a news conference announcing the recapturing of funds.
"By going after an entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the costs and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks."
Authorities have stepped up their expertise in tracking the flow of digital money as ransomware has become a growing national security threat.
JBS meatpacking was also targeted in a ransomware attack on May 30.
The company suffered a cyber breach affecting working shifts for beef and pork plants located in Ottumwa, Iowa; Worthington, Minnesota; Cactus, Texas; and Greeley, Colorado.
The attack affected some of its servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems.
The attacks have put further strain on relations between the US and Russia.
At the news conference on Monday, Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said that the bureau was tracking more than 100 ransomware variants and that DarkSide itself had targeted at least 90 US companies.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Sunday that Joe Biden's administration is looking at "all of the options" to defend the country against ransomware criminals.
She said the issue will be pressed when the president meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin this month.
"We're not taking anything off the table as we think about possible repercussions, consequences or retaliation," Raimondo said.
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