Report: Colonial Pipeline Paid Almost $5 Million to Hackers
Colonial Pipeline paid the Eastern European hackers who attacked its network 75 Bitcoin, worth almost $5 million at the time of the ransom payment, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening, backing up a report in Bloomberg News.
That's contrary to reports earlier this week.
The ransom payment to DarkSide, a group of cybercriminals in or near Russia, allowed Colonial to start restoring its network and work to reopen its massive pipeline from Texas to the East Coast, where gas stations are running out of gas amid panic buying of constrained supplies. Full restoration of gas service will take several days.
The federal government discourages such payments on the grounds they encourage further ransomware attacks. But many companies, local governments, and other organizations opt to pay the ransom because not doing so — leaving company data locked in encryption or leaked or sold on the web — would cost more, and because insurance often covers the payments. When asked, President Biden had no comment.
Ransomware attacks are a big and growing problem for businesses of all size and scope. A report last month from a ransomware task force said payments rose by 311 percent in 2020 to about $350 million, paid in cryptocurrency, and the average payout was $312,493, Bloomberg reports.