Washington (CNN)US investigators have recovered millions of dollars in cryptocurrency paid in ransom to hackers whose attack prompted the shutdown of the key East Coast pipeline last month, according to people briefed on the matter.
The Justice Department on Monday is expected to announce details of the operation led by the FBI with the cooperation of the Colonial Pipeline operator, the people briefed on the matter said. The ransom recovery is a rare outcome for a company that has fallen victim to a debilitating cyberattack in the booming criminal business of ransomware. Colonial Pipeline Co. CEO Joseph Blount told The Wall Street Journal In an interview published last month that the company complied with the $4.4 million ransom demand because officials didn't know the extent of the intrusion by hackers and how long it would take to restore operations.
But behind the scenes, the company had taken early steps to notify the FBI and followed instructions that helped investigators track the payment to a cryptocurrency wallet used by the hackers, believed to be based in Russia. US officials have linked the Colonial attack to a criminal hacking group known as Darkside that is said to share its malware tools with other criminal hackers. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment, and CNN has reached out to the Colonial Pipeline operator.