Colonial Pipeline Paid $5M to Hackers Hours After the Attack

The FBI usually does not condone paying ransoms to hackers as there's no guarantee hackers will hold up their end of the bargain.
Fabienne Lang

The company responsible for the pipeline that carries almost half of the East Coast's fuel in the U.S. allegedly paid $5 million to ransomware hackers after a cyber attack last week, on May 7.

The company in question, Colonial Pipeline, initially responded by temporarily shutting down some of its online systems to contain the threat, as well as closing off its pipeline operations, sparking an emergency in the region

To try and delay the effects of fuel shortages along the East Coast, the Biden administration issued an order for gasoline truck drivers to work overtime on Monday, May 10. The company also stated that its pipeline would be back up and running in a few days' time, and in the meantime, fuel is being transported as quickly as possible to the required regions.

It turns out that Colonial Pipeline ultimately resorted to paying the ransomware attackers millions of dollars, as Bloomberg first reported.

Ransomware cyberattacks

Typically, the FBI and the U.S. don't condone ransomware victims paying their hackers to get away from the issue. This case, however, might have been just too important to push back on perhaps. 

This ransomware cyberattack marks one of the largest cyberattacks on the oil and gas industry in the U.S. in history. 

The FBI confirmed that the cyberattack was carried out by a hacker group that goes by the name of DarkSide. Little is currently known about this hacker group, but it's believed to be based in Russia, as NBC News reported.

This ransomware hacker group, like a number of others, holds company or organization files in exchange for a ransom. If they do not receive the money, they threaten to publish the files on public forums.

Just this week, a separate ransomware hacker group tried to extort the D.C. police by hacking into its officers' personal files and holding them hostage in exchange for $4 million. The payment has not been made, some police files have already been published online, and conversations between the police and the hackers are ongoing. 

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