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Tim Culpan

Colonial Hackers Broke the Fundamental Bitcoin Rule

Ill-gotten crypto gains aren’t as invulnerable from law enforcement as many people think.

Ransom is best collected cold.

Ransom is best collected cold.

Photographer: Artyom Geodakyan/TASS/Getty

When kidnappers ask for a ransom, they’d be wise to have a plan to store the loot securely. Cybercriminals aren’t exempt.

Hackers who broke into and encrypted the computer files of the Colonial Pipeline operator last month made a now-common demand: Pay me, or your files stay locked forever. The ransom was to be paid in Bitcoin.