Colonial Pipeline has announced that it paid a ransom of $4.4 million (£3.1 million) to the cyber-criminal crew that took down the US fuel pipeline.
Because of the confusion about how long the shutdown will last, the company’s CEO approved the payment on May 7th, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In his first interview after the hack, Joseph Blount said, “I understand that’s a highly controversial decision.”
The pipeline, which stretches for 5,500 miles (8,900 kilometers), transports 2.5 million barrels a day.
According to the company, it transports 45 percent of all diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel on the East Coast.
Mr. Blount, the company’s chief executive, informed the newspaper that the company agreed to pay the ransom after consulting with experts who had already worked with DarkSide, the criminal organization responsible for the assault.
“I didn’t make [that decision] lightly.” I’ll confess that watching money go out the door to individuals like this made me uncomfortable.
He went on to say, “But it was the right thing to do for the country.”
Companies do not compensate hackers for ransomware assaults, according to the US government, since this might invite further hacking in the future.
The Colonial Pipeline went offline on Friday, May 7th, as a result of the cyber-attack.
According to the newspaper, the business got a decryption method in exchange for the Bitcoin payment, which enabled it to unlock the systems hacked by the hackers- but this was not enough to restart systems instantly.
However, according to data tracking firm Gas Buddy, operations on the pipeline resumed last week, despite persistent gasoline shortages in states such as North Carolina and Georgia.
Mr. Blount also predicted that several other enterprise processes would take months to recover and that the assault would cost the organization tens of millions of dollars in the long run.
Having led the company since 2017, he still regrets that the company has lost some of its privacy.
“We were perfectly happy with no one knowing who the Colonial Pipeline was,” he said.
“Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Every single person on the planet is aware of it. “
The DarkSide crime group issued a formal release at the time of the hack, acknowledging the event.
On its website, DarkSide said, “Our mission is to make money, not to cause problems for society.”
“We don’t engage in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for… our motives,” it added.