Colonial Paid Ransom to Hackers: Bloomberg

Drivers in Southeastern states can expect 'headaches' for another week or longer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2021 12:39 PM CDT
Pipeline Company Reportedly Paid Ransom to Hackers
A fuel tanker driver delivers a 9-000-gallon load of fuel at a Sheetz in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday.   (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)

Colonial Pipeline said this week it had no intention of paying ransom to the hackers who crippled its fuel shipments. So how did the company manage to begin restoring operations on Wednesday? As it turns out, Colonial paid a ransom after all, reports Bloomberg. The outlet says the company shelled out $5 million in unspecified cryptocurrency hours after the attack. In return, Colonial received a decrypting tool, though one so slow that the company continues to use its own systems as well, per the story. US government officials are aware of the payment, adds Bloomberg. The founder of cybersecurity firm LIFARS tells the outlet that $5 million is "very low" for this kind of thing, but he speculates the hackers—identified as the group DarkSide from Russia or Eastern Europe—may have gotten nervous because of the chaos their hack unleashed.

Even though Colonial began resuming normal operations on Wednesday, people in southeastern states should brace for gasoline shortages to last for at least another week, reports Politico. While the company said deliveries should begin reaching all affected regions on Thursday, there will be "about 7-14 days of headaches if you need fuel in GA, NC, SC or VA," GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan tweeted Thursday morning. Richard Joswick, global head of oil analytics at S&P Global Platts, expressed a similar sentiment, per the AP: “We are not out of the woods yet, but the trees are thinning out." (Some drivers were resorting to not-so-bright methods.)

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