Colonial Pipeline was reportedly forced to hand over five million dollars in ransom in a bid to restore functionality to its east coast pipeline after it was hacked by a group calling itself DarkSide who is believed to be located in Eastern Europe.
As Bloomberg reports:
The company paid the hefty ransom in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.
Once they received the payment, the hackers provided the operator with a decrypting tool to restore its disabled computer network. The tool was so slow that the company continued using its own backups to help restore the system, one of the people familiar with the company’s efforts said.
A representative from Colonial declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the National Security Council. Colonial said it began to resume fuel shipments around 5 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday.
The hackers, which the FBI said are linked to a group called DarkSide, specialize in digital extortion and are believed to be located in Russia or Eastern Europe.
The news contradicts earlier reports and statements from the company which indicated that they had refused to pay any ransom to the group.
Many conservatives were dismayed that the White House allowed the company to pay the ransom, citing the bad precedent such an action sets for future attacks:
The United States government should have stepped in and stopped this ransom payment in the interest of national security. The potential implications of hackers around the world knowing they can get rich by attacking our critical infrastructure are absolutely frightening. https://t.co/WUkX7wVY7b
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) May 13, 2021