The US Justice Department has recovered some $2.3 million worth of Bitcoin paid as part of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware.
Ransomware shut down Colonial Pipeline, impacting fuel availability and prices all along the East Cost. The CEO has defended his decision to pay nearly $5 million in Bitcoin, in an effort to get critical infrastructure operational as fast as possible.
According to Reuters, the Justice Department has successfully recovered some $2.3 million of the ransom paid. The FBI was able to gain access to a private key that unlocked a digital wallet, providing access to the bitcoins.
The operation is a rare success story in the world of ransomware, where prosecution or recovery of funds is an unusual occurrence.
Joseph Blount, Colonial Chief Executive, said the company had been working closely with the FBI and was “grateful for their swift work and professionalism.”
“Holding cyber criminals accountable and disrupting the ecosystem that allows them to operate is the best way to deter and defend against future attacks,” Blount said.
His sentiments were echoed by John Hultquist, vice president of Mandiant cybersecurity firm, who told Reuters: “Right now, prosecution is a pipedream. Disrupt. Disrupt. Disrupt.”