Quantcast

Colonial Pipeline Confirms It Paid $4.4M to Hackers

'I know that’s a highly controversial decision. But it was the right thing to do for the country...'

(Associated Press) The operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline confirmed it paid $4.4 million to a gang of hackers who broke into its computer systems.

Colonial Pipeline said Wednesday that after it learned of the May 7 ransomware attack, the company took its pipeline system offline and needed to do everything in its power to restart it quickly and safely, and made the decision then to pay the ransom.

“This decision was not made lightly,” but it was one that had to be made, a company spokesman said. “Tens of millions of Americans rely on Colonial – hospitals, emergency medical services, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, airports, truck drivers and the traveling public.”

Colonial Pipeline’s CEO, Joseph Blount, told the Wall Street Journal he authorized the payment because the company didn’t know the extent of the damage and wasn’t sure how long it would take to bring the pipeline’s systems back.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

The FBI discourages making ransom payments to ransomware attackers, because paying encourages criminal networks around the globe who have hit thousands of businesses and health care systems in the U.S. in the past year alone.

But many victims of ransomware attacks, where hackers demand large sums of money to decrypt stolen data or to prevent it from being leaked online, opt to pay.

“I know that’s a highly controversial decision,” Blount told the Journal. “But it was the right thing to do for the country.”

Blount said Colonial paid the ransom in consultation with experts who previously dealt with the group behind the attacks, DarkSide, which rents out its ransomware to partners to carry out the actual attacks.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

Multiple sources had confirmed to the Associated Press that Colonial Pipeline had paid the criminals who committed the cyberattack a ransom of nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency for the software decryption key required to unscramble their data network.

A ransom payment of 75 Bitcoin was paid the day after the criminals locked up Colonial’s corporate network, according to Tom Robinson, co-founder of the cryptocurrency-tracking firm Elliptic.

Prior to Robinson’s blog post, two people briefed on the case had confirmed the payment amount to AP.

Blount told the Journal the attack was discovered around 5:30 a.m. on May 7.

It took Colonial about an hour to shut down the pipeline, which has 260 delivery points across 13 states and Washington, D.C., Blount said.

That helped prevent the infection from potentially migrating to the pipeline’s operational controls.

But there are lingering issues. Blount said Colonial is still unable to bill customers following an outage of that system.

The pipeline system delivers about 45% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast, and Colonial, which is based in Alpharetta, Georgia, halted fuel supplies for nearly a week.

That led to panic-buying and shortages at gas stations from Washington, D.C. to Florida.

Colonial restarted its pipeline a week ago, but it took time to resume a full delivery schedule, and the panic-buying led to gasoline shortages.

More than 9,500 gas stations were out of fuel on Wednesday, including half of the gas stations in D.C. and 40% of stations in North Carolina, according to Gasbuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices and station outages.

- Advertisement -

TRENDING NOW

NYC Mayoral Candidate Accused of Sexual Misconduct was AOC’s No. 2 Option

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, said this week that she ranked the New York City mayoral candidate who had been accused of sexual misconduct as...

150 Employees Fired or Quit After Houston Hospital Issued Vaccine Mandate

More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system resigned or were fired after they were told to get a coronavirus vaccine to keep...

DeSantis Signs Bills to Require Teaching Students that Communism is Evil

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a trio of bills on Tuesday to improve civic literacy throughout the state and make sure students are taught...

FREE SPEECH: Supreme Court Rules for Cursing Student After She Didn’t Make Cheerleading Team

(Associated Press) The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a Pennsylvania public school wrongly suspended a cheerleader over a vulgar social media post she made after...

PROPERTY RIGHTS: SCOTUS Says Unions Can’t Trespass to Recruit Members

(Headline USA) The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with California agriculture businesses in their challenge to a state regulation that gives unions access to farm...

High Court Limits When Police Can Enter Home Without Warrant

(Associated Press) The Supreme Court on Wednesday put limits on when police officers pursuing a fleeing suspect can enter a home without a warrant. The high...

NYC to Remove Teddy Roosevelt Statue from Museum Over ‘Colonial Subjugation’

(Headline USA) A prominent statue of Theodore Roosevelt at the entrance of The American Museum of Natural History will be removed after years of criticism...

Central Banks to Keep Buying Gold

The move away from the Federal Reserve Note as the global reserve currency of choice has continued in recent years, with fresh developments increasing...

Gold to Test Major Uptrend; Fed to Remain Behind Inflation Curve

Battered gold and silver markets face a test of their bull market prospects. For gold, a bullish trendline has been in force since late 2018. The...
- Advertisement -