They say a surefire strategy in tracking organized crime is to “follow the money.” But even the Dark Side, an illegal online electronic hacking syndicate, must have been surprised!
Over the month of May, 2021, the world has learned bit by bit (bitcoin by bitcoin) the saga of Dark Side and how they hacked into the computers of Colonial Pipeline to shut down this major oil supply line of the southeastern United States. They demanded from Colonial US$4.4 million to “unhack" the pipeline and restore oil flow. And they got it.
Unbeknown to them, however, was Colonial Pipeline’s secret consultation and cooperation with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A black-market encrypted cellphone, secured by the FBI, allowed investigators access to an underground app cybercriminals use to extort their demands and traffic their loot. Hiding in those crypto-criminal shadows, these investigators were able to track US$2.3 million of bitcoin as it was secretly transferred into a digital wallet. But as it turned out, the FBI had retrieved the private key (password) for that specific wallet. And bingo — the bitcoin ransomware was recovered for Colonial Pipeline.
“It remains unclear how exactly the FBI retrieved the key. ‘I don’t want to give up our tradecraft in case we want to use this again for future endeavors,’ Elvis Chan, an assistant special agent with the FBI’s San Francisco office, said in a news call Monday.”
All of this because the FBI found the private key to a digital wallet.
So who holds the key to your digital wallet? To whom have you given access to the hard-earned monies you have tucked away to cover your never-ending expenses?
It turns out that was Jesus’ question too. Oh sure, nobody had an inkling two thousand years ago about digital wallets and cryptocurrencies. But Jesus knew well the heart of man and woman: “ ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.’ ” Why, it’s the Colonial Pipeline headline far in advance! Will the Savior recommend digital wallets for security? He goes on, “ ‘But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ ” (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV).
His point is so simple, it needs no amplification.
Here’s a line my wife and I read together from this year’s devotional book, Jesus: Name Above All Names: “Lay up your treasure beside the throne of God, by doing with His entrusted capital the work that He desires done in the winning of souls to a knowledge of the truth. This will secure you eternal riches.”*
It turns out there is one Person we can trust with the key to our digital wallets. Put that key in His nail-scarred hand, and it is as if we were placing our humble life belongings right there beside His throne. We are talking about eternally safe and secure, beyond the reach of any Dark Side in this old world!
So, my humble recommendation is, we all give Him our keys: “Go ahead and follow the money, Lord Jesus — I’ve placed it all beside Your throne.”
* Ellen G. White, Jesus, Name Above All Names (Boise, ID: Pacific Press 2020), 172, emphasis supplied.