[ExI] colonial pipeline shutdown

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Fri Jun 11 15:21:43 UTC 2021

On Fri, Jun 11, 2021 at 11:04 AM spike jones via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> I didn’t follow this story very closely but what I heard doesn’t make
> sense.
> Some hackers somehow installed ransomware on the Colonial Pipeline system
> which caused a shutdown, resulting in fuel shortages on the east coast, but
> the company paid the ransom in bitcoins and got it back running again.
> That part makes sense, but the next part doesn’t.
> According to some sources, the FBI managed to get the money back somehow.

About half of it.

Are there bitcoin hipsters among us who can explain how the FBI could do
> that?  Is it not true that bitcoin is secure?  If the FBI can get money
> from criminals, it can get money from anyone who it says is a criminal,
> ja?  If so, the premise behind bitcoin has been demonstrated false or
> flawed, so its value should have taken a steep dive.  I see that it did
> right when the pipeline shut down, but not when the story broke that the
> FBI had recovered some of the money.
> I don’t understand.

which is paywalled:

*After Colonial Pipeline Co. on May 8 paid roughly $4.4 million in
cryptocurrency to hackers holding its computer systems hostage, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation followed the digital money.Over the next 19 days,
court records show, a special agent watched on a publicly visible bitcoin
ledger as hackers transferred the 75 bitcoins to other digital addresses. A
May 27 transfer of nearly 64 bitcoins landed at a virtual address to which
the FBI gained access, providing an opportunity to get a warrant and
pounce.On Monday, the Justice Department said it had recovered some of the
cryptocurrency, equal to about $2.3 million of Colonial’s initial
ransom.The operation demonstrates investigators’ growing technical ability
to disrupt the financial infrastructure that has enabled ransomware gangs
to squeeze hundreds of millions of dollars from victims each year,
cybersecurity experts say. Despite cryptocurrency’s reputation as a
hard-to-trace medium of exchange useful to criminals and other groups that
operate outside the traditional financial system, crypto experts say it is
at times easier to track than hard currencies such as U.S. dollars.“You
can’t hide behind cryptocurrency,” said Elvis Chan, assistant special agent
in charge of the cyber branch of the FBI’s San Francisco field office.*

The blockchain ledger is public. Everyone knows that. Making transactions
private doesn't happen automatically, but it can be done.

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