Colonial Pipeline plagued by new network outage as DarkSide hackers net $90 million in bitcoin from victims

‘Network issues’ are still impacting customers’ ability to access fuel shipments, two weeks after a cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline

Alice Hutton
Tuesday 18 May 2021 14:59 EDT

The FBI launched an investigation into the attack

The biggest fuel pipeline in the US that was shut down by hackers causing widespread chaos, is reportedly still suffering network outages two weeks on.

The Colonial Pipeline system runs from the Gulf Coast and supplies nearly half of the East Coast’s gasoline and diesel.

It was subject to a ransomware attack on 12 May and has been slow to resume normal service, with multiple gas stations across the US running low on fuel.

In a statement on Tuesday the company announced that some customers are still unable to access their shipments due to “network issues impacting customers’ ability to enter and update nominations”, as reported by Bloomberg.

Unnamed shippers reportedly told Bloomberg that the system that allows customers to reserve orders, alter them or receive updates, went down on Tuesday morning.

Following the attack the FBI launched an investigation into the cyberattack and believes that DarkSide, a hacker group based in Eastern Europe, is responsible.

Research from the firm Elliptic reveals that DarkSide has received $90 million in bitcoin payments from victims over the past nine months.

Colonial Pipeline initially said that it would not pay a ransom. Bloomberg subsequently reported that the company paid out $5 million in cryptocurrency.

The pipeline shutdown last week caused widespread panic-buying and hoarding in parts of the US.

The Colonial Pipeline carries 100m gallons of fuel every day to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is responsible for 45 per cent of the fuel that is delivered on the East Coast.

The shutdown caused gas shortages with prices reaching $6.99 per gallon in Virginia.

President Joe Biden declined to comment on the company’s alleged ransom payment but warned gas companies not to attempt to price gouge in the face of a shortage.

He said last week: “Do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time. Nobody should be using this situation for financial gain. That’s what the hackers were trying to do. That’s what they are. Not us. That’s not who we are.”

Reports of price gouging circulated in the Southeast, where drivers were most impacted by the closure of the 5,500-mile pipeline. President Biden encouraged residents who experienced price gouging at the pump to report the gas station to state and federal agencies.

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