On May 7, Russian hackers managed to break into the computer system of the American company Colonial Pipeline.
The company’s oil pipelines account for 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the US East Coast – and had to shut down completely for several days.
The consequences could have been dire. Gasoline prices rose, unrest grew. Finally, the company decided to pay a ransom of $4.4 million in bitcoins to regain control of its computer systems.
‘Turn the tables’
Similar cyberattacks have been a huge problem around the world for several years. Authorities, businesses and individuals were affected when hackers took over computer systems and demanded a ransom to unlock them again. But now it seems that the US authorities have found a way to respond.
After the attack on the oil pipeline, the Biden administration initiated the formation of a digital task force that would attack the hackers. A month later, they now seem to have succeeded.
We have turned the tables today, Deputy Minister of Justice Lisa Monaco said during a press conference on Monday evening, Swedish time.
Multiple Tracked Transfers
The task force must have successfully infiltrated the Russian hackers – and fully recovered 85 percent of the ransom.
Exactly how this happened is not clear. It is said that the FBI was able to track down several transfers of funds and was eventually able to take them. Although no one was recommended to pay the ransom, Monaco on Monday encouraged affected companies to contact the authorities quickly so that the money can be recovered. Although it didn’t promise it would always work.
“Getting their access to revenue is one of the most effective actions we can take,” Paul Abate of the FBI said during a news conference.