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22 June 2021

How Did the Feds Get the Pipeline Hackers' Bitcoin? Here's the Best Theory - Decrypt

How Did the Feds Get the Pipeline Hackers' Bitcoin? Here's the Best Theory - Decrypt


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Justice Department scored a rare victory against ransomware criminals this week, recovering most of the Bitcoin the crooks extorted following a high-profile attack on Colonial Pipeline.

If the gang could pull that off, how could they be so dumb as to put the Bitcoin ransom in a wallet that lay within the reach of U.S?

The evidence he says is that the Justice Department recovered only 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins paid in the ransom.

The upshot is that the unrecovered portion of the pipeline ransom went to a wallet controlled by DarkSide, which the Justice Department couldn't get its hands on.

The answer, says Smilyanets, is that the amateurs made a key mistake in hard coding the private key to their Bitcoin wallet into the larger ransomware package they deployed.

The ransomware crooks rented that server, Smilyanets says, in order to speed up the process of exfiltrating the data they stole from the pipeline operator to another country.

But as Smilyanets explained, it appears the crooks also included the private key to their Bitcoin wallet amidst the other data they funneled to Digital Ocean.

Smilyanets says all of this points to a sloppy operation by the hackers, who he suspects are young men who, drunk on the success of their extortion plan, dragged their feet in shutting the server and moving the Bitcoin to a safe location.

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