A banner featuring the bitcoin logo is on display during the Bitcoin 2021 Convention crypto-currency conference held at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida, on June 4, 2021.
Marco Bello | AFP | Getty Images
The price of Bitcoin fell again on Tuesday. The reason for the move was unclear, but it may be related to cryptocurrency security concerns after US officials managed to recover most of the ransom paid to hackers targeting Colonial Pipeline.
Court documents said investigators had access to the password for one of the hackers’ bitcoin wallets. The money was recovered by a recently launched task force in Washington created as part of the government’s response to an increase in cyber-attacks.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency slipped more than 7% at 5 a.m. ET to a price of $32,952, according to data from Coin Metrics. Smaller digital coins also collapsed, with ether falling 7% to $2,524 and XRP losing about 6%.
In April, 2021 looked like a banner year for digital assets, with bitcoin crossing $60,000 for the first time ever. But a recent plunge in crypto prices has shaken confidence in the market. Bitcoin dropped to nearly $30,000 last month and is currently down nearly 50% from its all-time high.
The digital currency is now only up 14% since the start of the year, although the price is still more than tripled from a year ago.
US recovers most of colonial ransom money
On Monday, US law enforcement officials said they seized $2.3 million in bitcoin, paid to DarkSide, the cybercriminal gang behind a crippling cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline.
According to a court document, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had access to the “private key” or password for one of the hackers’ bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin has often been the currency of choice for hackers who make ransom demands to decrypt data locked by malware known as “ransomware.”
Crypto media outlet Decrypt reported that there were unfounded rumors that the attackers’ bitcoin wallet had been “hacked”.
DarkSide, which reportedly received $90 million in ransom payments for bitcoin before it shut down, operated a so-called “ransomware as a service” business model, whereby hackers develop and market ransomware tools and sell them to affiliates who then carry out attacks. .
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the seized funds accounted for the bulk of the DarkSide affiliate’s share of the ransom paid by Colonial.
John Hultquist, vice president of analytics at Mandiant Threat Intelligence, called the move a “welcome development.”
“It has become clear that we need to use a variety of tools to turn the tide of this serious problem, and even law enforcement agencies need to broaden their approach beyond setting up cases against criminals who may be beyond the scope of the law,” he said. Hultquist.
“In addition to the immediate benefits of this approach, a stronger focus on disruption may discourage this behavior, which grows in a vicious circle,” he added.