SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco branch of the FBI announced Monday that it seized the majority of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment to hackers who caused the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to halt its operations last month.

In a press conference held Monday afternoon, Department Of Justice (DOJ) officials announced the recovery of Colonial Pipeline’s $4.5 million-ransomware payment made in cryptocurrency and its campaign to bring the gang of criminal hackers called “DarkSide” to justice.

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The operation to recover the cryptocurrency from the Russia-based hacker group is believed to be the first of its kind, and reflects what U.S. officials say is an increasingly aggressive approach to deal with a ransomware threat that in the last month has targeted critical industries around the world.

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Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announces the recovery of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency from the Colonial Pipeline Co. ransomware attacks as she speaks during a news conference with FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate and acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Stephanie Hinds at the Justice Department in Washington, Monday, June 7, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

“By going after an entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the costs and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference announcing the operation.

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly half the fuel consumed on the East Coast, temporarily shut down its operations on May 7 after DarkSide broke into its computer system.

Colonial officials have said they took their pipeline system offline before the attack could spread to its operating system, and decided to pay a roughly $4.4 million ransom in an effort to bring itself back online as soon as it could.

The FBI generally discourages the payment of ransom, fearing it could encourage additional hacks.

To watch the livestream, visit the Dept. of Justice’s website.

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