Colonial Pipeline, the company that owns the largest oil pipeline in the United States, responsible for distributing fuel to 45% of the population, was forced to pay $5 million to hackers in order to resume its operations.
This is the largest cyber-attack on the fuel industry in the United States, in which a criminal gang of hackers extorted the company to pay such a sum of money in exchange for recovering the stolen information.
It was not clear how the transaction or the negotiations with the hackers known as DarkSide took place, however the federal government said it is not in favor of paying ransom because it could encourage more hackers to attack more frequently.
The hack was of such magnitude that Colonial Pipeline was forced to halt the delivery of fuel to 5,500 miles of pipelines that supply 14 states in the country, causing gas stations to face gasoline shortages.
Biden said Monday that the United States currently has no intelligence evidence linking the DarkSide group’s ransomware attack to the Russian government.
“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this,”,” Biden said from the White House.
Colonial Pipeline restores operations
On Wednesday, Colonial Pipeline said in a statement that it had restored operations but that while normalcy is resumed, some markets may experience service disruptions.
“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” the company added.
The attack against Colonial Pipeline is just the latest example of how criminal groups have breached U.S. cybersecurity. Last year, SolarWinds’ enterprise software was breached, allowing hackers to gain access to communications and data at several federal government agencies.