Colonial Pipeline likely paid a $5M ransom to DarkSide

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DarkSide demanded a $5 million ransom to Colonial Pipeline, which has quickly recovered operations, did it pay?

The Colonial Pipeline facility in Pelham, Alabama, was hit by a cybersecurity attack on Friday and its operators were forced to shut down its systems. The pipeline allows carrying 2.5 million barrels of refined gasoline and jet fuel each day up the East Coast from Texas to New York, it covers 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies.

“The operator of the system, Colonial Pipeline, said in a statement late Friday that it had shut down its 5,500 miles of pipeline, which it says carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, in an effort to contain the breach on its computer networks. Earlier Friday, there were disruptions along the pipeline, but it was unclear whether that was a direct result of the attack.” reported The New York Times.

Early this week, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the Colonial Pipeline was shut down due to a cyber attack carried out by the Darkside ransomware gang.

US Colonial Pipeline
Source WSJ

The pipeline allows carrying 2.5 million barrels of refined gasoline and jet fuel each day up the East Coast from Texas to New York, it covers 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies.

Colonial Pipeline has recovered quickly from the ransomware attack, all its infrastructure has been restarted today.

Multiple media, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the company had initially refused to pay the ransom.

However, the quick restoration of the operations is suspicious and suggests that the operators of the Colonial Pipeline have paid the ransom.

The New York Rime reported that Colonial Pipeline paid the hackers almost $5 million worth of cryptocurrency to receive a decryption key that allowed it to restore the encrypted files. Because the tool was too slow, the company used its backups to restore the systems.

“The operator of a critical fuel pipeline on the East Coast paid extortionists roughly 75 Bitcoin — or nearly $5 million — to recover its stolen data, according to people briefed on the transaction, clearing the way for gas to begin flowing again but complicating President Biden’s efforts to deter future attacks.” reported the NYT.

“Colonial Pipeline made the ransom payment to the hacking group DarkSide after the cybercriminals last week held up the company’s business networks with ransomware, a form of malware that encrypts data until the victim pays, and threatened to release it online.”

According to the media, once the company has obtained the decryption key used it along with its backup system to quickly restore the impacted systems and resume pipeline operations.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Colonial Pipeline)

The post Colonial Pipeline likely paid a $5M ransom to DarkSide appeared first on Security Affairs.

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