Bulletins

DOJ recovers $2.3 million in bitcoin ransom from DarkSide hackers

The attack disrupted gasoline supplies in the Southeast in May.

The Colonial Pipeline was offline for days after a ransomware attack.

The Colonial Pipeline was offline for days after a ransomware attack.

Photo: Leonhard Lenz via Wikimedia Commons

The Justice Department said it recovered $2.3 million in bitcoin ransom paid to DarkSide, the criminal group that hacked Colonial Pipeline last month.


The May 7 cyberattack disrupted the pipeline's operations through ransomware that encrypted the company's files with a key controlled by the hackers. In the hopes of restoring service, the company paid the ransom in cryptocurrency to the criminal organization. But federal authorities were able to track down and recover the 63.7 bitcoins, valued at more than $2 million, paid to DarkSide.

"The extortionist will never see the money," Stephanie Hinds, deputy federal prosecutor for the Northern District of California, said in a Monday press conference. "New financial technologies that attempt to anonymize payments will not provide a curtain from behind which criminals will be permitted to pick the pockets of hard working Americans."

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate said the agency managed to find the bitcoin wallet that DarkSide used to collect the ransom payment.

DarkSide is known as a Russia-based cybercrime organization, he said. The group's developers "market the ransomware to criminal affiliates who then conduct attacks, and share a percentage of the proceeds with the developers," Abbate said. The scheme is known as "ransomware as a service," he said, adding that the FBI has identified more than 90 victims "across multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors."

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the "threat of severe ransomware attacks poses a clear and present danger" to corporations and communities, as she urged them to take serious precautions against the threat.

"Pay attention now. Invest the resources now," she said. "Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now or a victim later."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Stephanie Hinds's last name. This story was updated on June 7, 2021.

Protocol | Policy

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A new report finds that kids as young as 9 are being fed COVID-19 misinformation on TikTok, whether they engage with the videos or not.

NewsGuard researchers asked nine kids to create new TikTok accounts and record their experiences on the app.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

TikTok is pushing COVID-19 misinformation to children and teens within minutes of creating a new account, whether they actively engage with videos on the platform or not, a new report has found.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.


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A technology company reimagining global capital markets and economies.
Protocol | China

Beijing meets an unstoppable force: Chinese parents and their children

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Citizens in China are experienced at cooking up countermeasures when Beijing or governments come down with rigid policies.

Photo: Liu Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

During the summer break, Beijing handed down a parade of new regulations designed to intervene in youth education and entertainment, including a strike against private tutoring, a campaign to "cleanse" the internet and a strict limit on online game playing time for children. But so far, these seemingly iron-clad rules have met their match, with students and their parents quickly finding workarounds.

Grassroots citizens in China are experienced at cooking up countermeasures when Beijing or governments come down with rigid policies. Authorities then have to play defense, amending holes in their initial rules.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. She can be reached at shenlu@protocol.com.

Protocol | Policy

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The on-again, off-again battle between the two companies flared up again when Google commissioned a study on how much the U.S. government relies on Microsoft software.

Google and Microsoft are in a long-running feud that has once again flared up in recent months.

Photo: Jens Tandler/EyeEm/Getty Images

According to a new report commissioned by Google, Microsoft has an overwhelming "share in the U.S. government office productivity software market," potentially leading to security risks for local, state and federal governments.

The five-page document, released Tuesday by a trade group that counts Google as a member, represents the latest escalation between the two companies in a long-running feud that has once again flared up in recent months.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

People

Facebook wants to kill the family iPad

Facebook has built the first portable smart display, and is introducing a new household mode that makes it easier to separate work from play.

Facebook's new Portal Go device will go on sale for $199 in October.

Photo: Facebook

Facebook is coming for the coffee table tablet: The company on Tuesday introduced a new portable version of its smart display called Portal Go, which promises to be a better communal device for video calls, media consumption and many of the other things families use iPads for.

Facebook also announced a revamped version of its Portal Pro device Tuesday, and introduced a new household mode to Portals that will make it easier to share these devices with everyone in a home without having to compromise on working-from-home habits. Taken together, these announcements show that there may be an opening for consumer electronics companies to meet this late-pandemic moment with new device categories.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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