Microsoft aids Feds’ recovery of Colonial Pipeline ransom

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The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

Remember when Colonial Pipeline paid out nearly $5 million to hackers back in May? Well, that whole fiasco just got a spicy new twist: The FBI has managed to yoink back over $2 million of the extorted money with an assist from Microsoft.

As reported by NBC News, the FBI got access to DarkSide’s central account, which had roughly 63.7 bitcoins in it — otherwise known as $2.3 million. As to how this specific feat was achieved, you’ll have to guess for yourself. The fine details are shrouded in mystery as the FBI doesn’t want to reveal its methods for this particular operation.

However, two details about the operation should give you a vague idea of how the FBI pulled it off. First, there’s the fact that a lot of internet infrastructure exists within the United States, wherein the Feds can use warrants to poke and prod wherever they want. And second, the FBI didn’t go it alone: Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center helped out.

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How the Threat Intelligence Center specifically aided efforts has not been divulged, but given that it’s known for keeping tabs on ransomware groups, the connection isn’t hard to make.

The fact that the FBI was able to reclaim cryptocurrency from the hackers does raise questions about how secure the new form of finance is. You may have the best GPUs for crypto mining (like the RTX 3060 Ti) and be keen on earning passive crypto income, but make no mistake, it’s just money like any other, meaning if you don’t play fair with it, there’s a good chance the Feds will come for you.

And on a related note, if you’re interested in getting into crypto despite the riffraff above and find yourself unable to do so due to the current scarcity of GPUs in the global market, consider learning how to farm Chia. It relies on hard drives, making it a little more convenient to break into as a hobbyist. Here are the best storage drives for Chia.

Microsoft declined to comment on this story.

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