21:12 GMT12 June 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Colonial Pipeline Chief Executive Joseph Blount said his company paid $4.4mln to the cybercriminal group that closed the largest US pipeline with a ransomware attack that sent American motorists scrambling to find gasoline and underscored the vulnerability of the nation’s infrastructure to hackers, the WSJ reported on Monday.

    In an interview with the newspaper, Blount acknowledged publicly for the first time that the company had paid the ransom, saying it was an option he felt he had to exercise, given the stakes involved in a shutdown of such critical energy infrastructure. The Colonial Pipeline provides roughly 45 percent of the fuel for the East Coast, according to the company.

    Blount said he authorized the ransom payment of $4.4 million because executives were unsure how badly the cyberattack had breached its systems or how long it would take to bring the pipeline back.

    Blount said he reluctantly authorised the payment on 7 May after receiving the conditions from the cybercriminal outfit known as DarkSide.

    Gas stations along the US East Coast ran out of fuel with lingering disruptions continuing a week after the pipeline reopened on 12 May.

    DarkSide has turned ransomware into a profitable business, netting more than $90 million from 99 organisations infected with the group’s malware, the cyber monitoring group Elliptic said in a report on Tuesday.

    hacker attack, ransom, gasoline, US
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