Colonial Pipeline paid ransom to hackers who infiltrated its system

·2 min read

Colonial Pipeline paid a ransom to the hackers who infiltrated its system and forced the shutdown of a major pipeline supplying fuel to the East Coast last week, multiple sources confirmed to CBS News on Thursday. One source familiar with the investigation said the company paid a multi-million dollar ransom.

The sources did not provide a specific timeline for the payment but said the company paid the hackers shortly after its systems started locking up last week. The company has not publicly confirmed the payment.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the payment, said the company paid the hackers $5 million. CBS News has not confirmed that figure.

The shutdown of the pipeline sparked panic in the southeastern U.S., with residents lining up at gas pumps for hours over fears of a shortage. The 5,500-mile pipeline supplies 45% of the East Coast's fuel.

After announcing Wednesday that it had begun restarting pipeline operations, Colonial Pipeline said Thursday that it has successfully restarted the entire system and that product delivery to all markets has resumed. But the company cautioned that it will take "several days" for supply to return to normal, warning that intermittent service disruptions may still occur.

As of Thursday morning, 74% of gas stations in North Carolina were facing outages, as were half the gas stations in Georgia, according to Gas Buddy, a company that finds real-time fuel prices and locations.

An out-of-service bag covers a pump handle at a gas station on May 12, 2021, in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  / Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty
An out-of-service bag covers a pump handle at a gas station on May 12, 2021, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. / Credit: Sean Rayford / Getty

President Biden weighed in earlier Thursday, urging Americans to stop hoarding gas. "Do not get more gas than you need in the next few days," the president said. "As I said, we expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week, and gasoline supply is getting back online, and panic buying will only slow the process."

The FBI on Monday said a criminal gang known as DarkSide was responsible for the ransomware attack. While U.S. intelligence suggests the hackers live in Russia, there is no evidence that the Russian government was involved in the attack.

Andres Triay contributed reporting.

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