U.S. Department of Justice Seized $2.3M in Bitcoin from Ransomware Hackers



The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at approximately $2.3 million. According to the Department of Justice, “these funds allegedly represent the proceeds of a May 8, ransom payment to individuals in a group known as DarkSide.” This is the group that targeted the Colonial Pipeline, causing it to shutdown.

As alleged in the supporting affidavit, by reviewing the Bitcoin public ledger, law enforcement was able to track multiple transfers of bitcoin and identify that approximately 63.7 bitcoins, representing the proceeds of the victim’s ransom payment, had been transferred to a specific address, for which the FBI has the “private key,” or the rough equivalent of a password needed to access assets accessible from the specific Bitcoin address. This bitcoin represents proceeds traceable to a computer intrusion and property involved in money laundering and may be seized pursuant to criminal and civil forfeiture statutes. 

The Wall Street Journal reported a quote from Stephanie Hinds, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California (where the seizure warrant was obtained). “The extortionists will never see this money. This case demonstrates our resolve to develop methods to prevent evildoers from converting new methods of payment into tools and extortion for undeserved profits.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the FBI officially discourages victims from paying ransoms because doing so can become a booming criminal marketplace and often won’t actually result in the restoration of the frozen computer systems.

Krebs on Security reported that Colonial Pipeline stated that the hackers only hit its business IT networks – not its pipeline security or safety systems. Colonial Pipeline shut down its pipeline as a precaution.

According to Krebs on Security, DarkSide (which is described as a “ransomware-as-a-service” syndicate) shut down on May 14, 2021, after posting a farewell message to affiliates. The message said that its Internet servers and cryptocurrency stash were seized by unknown law enforcement entities.

Personally, I find it interesting that the U.S. Department of Justice has the ability to seize cryptocurrency from thieves who received it after inflicting a company with ransomware. Perhaps this will serve as a warning to those who are interested in obtaining cryptocurrency through illegal means.


Jeff Bezos to be an Astronaut #1532



Jeff Bezos is going to risk life and limb and strap himself into a rocket and go on a joyride to space to earn his Astronaut wings. Stepping down as CEO as of July 5th will allow him the opportunity to travel to space with 5 others including his brother. I would suspect his insurance company will likely not insure him for this endeavor or if it does the premium will be incredible.

If the audio is off a little today my apology had to go to a backup as the main recorder failed.

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Amazon Prime Day approaches, warm up your wallet



Very few people don’t shop at Amazon at least occasionally. Some perhaps more than they should – or more than the significant other wishes. 

Good news, Amazon Pime Day is coming. You have a little time to make up your mind, the announcement just came out but the big moment takes place over two days – June 21-22. 

Amazon promises “will deliver Prime members over 2 million deals across every category, including fashion, home, beauty, electronics, and more, along with the best in entertainment benefits and never-before-seen exclusives across Prime Video, Amazon Music, Prime Gaming, and more. Prime Day kicks off on June 21 at midnight PDT (3 a.m. EDT) and runs through June 22 for Prime members in the U.S., the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Spain, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Brazil, Belgium, Austria, and Australia. Not a Prime member yet? Anyone can join Prime or start a 30-day free trial at amazon.com/primeday to participate in Prime Day.” 

It’s a good thing you have a couple of weeks to browse because there’s a lot to look at and don’t forget to keep an eye out for current deals since some are already out there. 


Amazon Industrial Athlete #1531



Have you ever heard of an Industrial Athlete? Well, that is what Amazon is referring to its employees in a leaked pamphlet that seriously attempts to make Amazon warehouse workers think they are training for some competition that happens daily. I am not sure what idiot came up with that slogan, obviously, one that does not work on the warehouse floor and peers down their nose at the counterparts.

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Swatch Launches Space Collection



Swatch logoSwatch has launched a five-watch space collection inspired by NASA and the exploration of space. On sale today in Swatch stores and from 8 June on-line, the watches feature the famous “worm” NASA logo. These are going to be hot.

The collection consists of two different model sets. The first set of three watches are Big Bold watches with Bioceramic 47 mm cases and take their cues from NASA flights and spacesuits. The Big Bold Chrono Extravehicular riffs on the spacesuits from the ISS; the Chrono Launch model uses the orange pumpkin suit from the Shuttle era; and the Jumpsuit uses the blue flight suits donned for ground-based activities.

Three wristwatches on the lunar surface
Image courtesy of Swatch

Bioceramic is Swatch’s latest innovation. It’s a new material composed of two-thirds ceramic along with one-third bio-sourced plastic from castor oil. Swatch says that it’s “lightweight, resilient and resistant with a silk-like touch”.

The second set are more traditional Swatch models: the Space Race is white with black accents and a silver dial in a 41 mm case. The Take Me To The Moon model comes with a 34 mm transparent case.

Two wristwatches on lunar surface
Image courtesy of Swatch

Prices are as follows:

  • Extravehicular – GB£137
  • Launch – GB£141
  • Jumpsuit – GB£108
  • Space Race – GB£79
  • Take Me To The Moon – GB£70

Available now from Swatch stores and on-line from 8 June. I think these will sell well, so if you are interested, I wouldn’t hang around.


OpenSUSE Drops Leap 15.3



OpenSuSE logoOpenSUSE has dropped an update to its Linux distro, Leap 15.3, eleven months after the previous release. This new release includes updates to the desktop environments KDE, Gnome, Xfce and Sway; new packages for education, research and health; artificial intelligence packages; improvements to containers and virtualisation.

The team at OpenSUSE has been working hard behind the scenes as well. Leap 15.3 has been brought in line with SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3, providing binary compatibility and build configurations are standardised between the two distributions. As a result, migrations from Leap to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are now easy and straightforward.

The software craftsmanship of this release makes server, workstation, desktop and container use on openSUSE Leap a desirable distribution for IT professionals, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, small businesses and educational practitioners,” said release manager Lubos Kocman.

There’s a big list of feature improvements across a range of areas:

  • Containers: podman, CRI-O, containerd, kubeadm
  • AI: TensorFlow Lite, Pytorch, ONNX, Grafana, Prometheus
  • Health: GNU Health
  • Desktop Environments: Xfce, KDE, Gnome, Sway
  • Linux Kernel, Systemd, Mesa
  • Privacy: Tor and OnionShare
  • Office: LibreOffice, Skrooge, Scribus, Evolution, Thunderbird
  • Media: Amarok, VLC, Blender
  • Programming: Go, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust.

For Linux fans, there’s a 24 hour online release party hosted by OpenSUSE so if you are reading this on the day, you can join the party at the bar. Contributors and developers will be at the party so you can get to know the people behind the software.

I have to admit that I’m unclear as to why it’s branded “RC” on the website as there’s no suggestion in the press release that this is anything other than a production version.

From personal experience, the last upgrade was very smooth so I’m expecting 15.2 to 15.3 to be as straightforward. I’ll kick off the download shortly but if I encounter any issues, I’ll report back here.


D.C. Attorney General Sues Amazon on Antitrust Grounds



Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl A. Racine, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com seeking to end its anticompetitive practices that have raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice across the entire online retail market.

Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs. It maximizes profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition, stifling innovation, and illegally tilting the playing field in its favor,” said AG Racine. “We filed this antitrust lawsuit to put an end to Amazon’s illegal control of prices in the retail marketplace that expands options available to District residents and promotes competition, innovation, and choice.

CNBC reported that that Attorney General Racine is seeking to end Amazon’s illegal use of price agreements to avoid competition. The lawsuit also asks for damages and penalties to deter similar conduct. The lawsuit asks the court to stop what it calls Amazon’s ability to harm competition through a variety of remedies as needed, which could include structural relief, often referred to as a form of breakup.

According to CNBC, shares of Amazon barely moved on the announcement, down 1% as of Tuesday afternoon.

In my opinion, Attorney General Racine is doing the right thing by filing this kind of lawsuit against Amazon. Unfortunately, given how much money Amazon has, it seems likely that it has much more financial resources than an Attorney General’s office would have. I suspect that Amazon will win the case because it can spend more on attorneys and will not be harmed by dragging out the lawsuit for as long as possible.