The FBI has announced that it has successfully seized the Bitcoin payment that was made to the hackers responsible for the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. Specifically, during the press conference and their press release, the FBI specifically stated that it was able to seize the bitcoin wallet used by the hackers.
“Today the FBI successfully seized criminal proceeds from a bitcoin wallet that DarkSide ransomware actors used to collect a cyber ransom payment from a victim. Since last year, we’ve been pursuing an investigation into DarkSide—a Russia-based cybercrime group. The DarkSide ransomware variant is one of more than 100 ransomware variants that the FBI is currently investigating. DarkSide developers market their ransomware to criminal affiliates, who then conduct attacks and share a percentage of the proceeds with the developers, a scheme known as ransomware-as-a-service.”
As soon as this was announced, the price of Bitcoin took a plunge across different exchanges around the world.
A quick glance on social media you got the sentiment that the biggest reason for the Bitcoin plunge was due to the unanswered question: how did the FBI gain access to the hackers’ Bitcoin wallet?
More specifically, in some corners, there was speculation that the FBI managed to crack the wallet’s private keys. However, this is a bit far-fetched considering the type of encryption in question.
More plausible is one of two possibilities. The first, derived from court documents, is that it is possible in seizing one of the servers located in the USA that belong to the hackers, somewhere on the servers they located the private keys or the credentials to access the Bitcoin wallet.
The second possibility is derived from the fact that, in tracking the transactions by the Bitcoin wallet, the final destination is a Bitcoin wallet on Coinbase, a US company. As such, given that Coinbase is governed by US law, it is possible that the FBI requested Coinbase hand over the wallet as it contained proceeds from a crime. However, this second possibility is also still tricky as Coinbase' Chief Security Officer has said that they didn't hand over any private keys.
Whatever happened, until there is clarity how the FBI seized the private keys, there will forever be a cloud of distrust around Bitcoin.
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Thought of the Day
Until there is clarity on how the FBI managed to seize the private keys for the Bitcoin wallet that received the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack payment, there will be a cloud of distrust around Bitcoin. (Tweet this | Share on WhatsApp)
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