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Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid $5 million in cryptocurrency to hackers to end the ransomware cyberattack on its systems. The crazy high ransom number was set by the hackers, who are believed to be part of the infamous crime syndicate DarkSide.
The attack on Colonial Pipeline’s systems caused widespread panic and chaos across the country, especially in southeastern states that are dependent on its fuel distribution. The company paid the high price to remove the ransomware that had seized control of vital fuel-shipping systems.
Though the actual hackers have not been identified, the FBI has stated that the infamous criminal group DarkSide demanded $5 million be paid in untraceable cryptocurrency. Once the crypto was transferred the hackers sent a decrypting tool that could end the ransomware which locked the company out of its own programs.
The disabled computer network was slowly but surely unlocked, though the tool was reportedly not helpful in restoring the systems. Instead, Colonial Pipeline used its own backups to help restore things back to normal.
The company supplies 45 percent of the Southeastern region’s fuel, including gasoline and jet fuel, which was essentially unavailable since Friday. States like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia went into a state of emergency to conserve fuel as thousands of people began panic buying, draining a large percentage of the rations available.
In their statement to the public Thursday, Colonial Pipeline explained that “Colonial Pipeline has made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service.” They continued, saying that “by mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system.”
The pipeline that services thousands of gas stations and other fuel deposits is approximately 5,500 miles long, from Houston, TX to Linden, N.J. By the end of the week, Colonial Pipeline will likely be fully functional. Gas prices will likely lower after surging to extremely high prices.
Nevertheless, the hackers who caused the mess may strike again. They received their $5 million payment in untraceable cryptocurrency within hours of the attack. And the FBI believes they are located in either Russia or Eastern Europe. The exact reason for the particular target is unknown, but Colonial Pipeline is creating safeguards to protect against future cyberattacks. The reason for the attack was explained by the criminal group, in a statement released to CNBC.
In the statement, the DarkSide group spoke about the recent attack, describing it as “apolitical.” “We are apolitical,” the criminal organization wrote. “We do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government, and look for our motives. Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”
In its statement Colonial Pipeline said that the efficiency at which they restored their systems “would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of the many Colonial team members across the pipeline who worked safely and tirelessly through the night to get our lines up and running. We are grateful for their dedicated service and professionalism during these extraordinary times.”