Among many alleged advantages, cryptocurrencies purportedly offer two major advantages over fiat currencies: 1) autonomy and 2) discretion. In the past week, the US federal government brought down both of them.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release that it had seized $ 2.3 million worth of cryptocurrencies. The seizure was the result of the FBI’s Colonial Pipeline investigation. As a reminder, the Colonial Pipeline, the largest refined oil pipeline in the United States, was victim of a cyber attack. Against US will and policies, Colonial Pipeline paid millions in ransom to regain control of the pipeline.
According to the FBI, they had found and recovered much of the ransom Colonial had paid. The FBI tracked the Bitcoin Colonial sent to the attackers recorded in the Bitcoin ledger with a block explorer. The fact that the FBI was able to track down and recover the cryptocurrency undermines these concepts of autonomy and discretion. If Bitcoin doesn’t offer these benefits, what is its real value over fiat currencies? Bitcoin’s trading price has fallen since this news broke. Are investors asking the same questions?
Russian hackers continue to hack US companies. Government agencies, maybe even our military arsenal, will come next. This should give an indication of our outdated infrastructure. This is urgently needed and we must protect US infrastructure by whatever means necessary.
Like most rational Americans, I was concerned about reading the details of what the FBI allegedly achieved in response to the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. The FBI reported how it was accessed and operated on DarkSide on the dark web. In doing so, they released shockingly sensitive data, which surprised me. The dark web is the ugly part of the internet. If the press release is to be believed, the first question that arises is why the US government would publish such details about its actions and actions. If the Colonial Pipeline’s actions are all true and law enforcement officers lock up and arrest and penetrate Anom devices, that unique access and ability are gone today. Then the question arises, why would the US government divulge so much sensitive credentials, tools and capabilities?
The reputation, trust, and public trust in the FBI were broken early on in the Trump administration and are likely to be irreparable. So is this press release true? It smells like government public relations to repair the reputation of a deadly department. This press release would have landed very differently if it had happened before and prevented the Colonial Pipeline hack. Crime prevention? It’s a funny phrase that we don’t hear often anymore. Crime is exploding in almost every corner of America’s metropolitan areas, and if you just think out loud, while cryptocurrency is the new thing everyone is raving about, it’s not beyond reproach, as the FBI clearly shows.
US government hackers have stolen DarkSide, possibly Russian, digitally “Ransomware as a Service” Provider targeting Colonial Pipeline last month. They accessed a private key for one of DarkSide’s bitcoin wallets and confiscated 63.7 bitcoins ($ 2.1 million today) – 85% of the 75 bitcoins in ransom paid to DarkSide (then 4, $ 4 million, now $ 2.5 million). However, that’s only a tiny fraction of the $ 90 million in ransom DarkSide is believed to have raised before it closed.
Bitcoin prices have fallen about 10% after former President Donald Trump called it a “Scam” and because the DarkSide seizure raised concerns that crypto wallets are hackable. (It’s worth noting that DarkSide’s wallet was not actually hacked in this case. Instead, government officials were given access to their private key and used that key to unlock the wallet as usual.)
Separately, the FBI worked with Australian law enforcement agencies to end a massive barbed operation called Operation Trojan Shield that exploited messages sent on encrypted Anom devices. The operation brought in over 800 suspects in 16 countries and confiscated eight tons of cocaine and $ 48 million.
Armstrong Williams is a nationally syndicated columnist.
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