Colonial Pipeline Pays Ransom, Gas Flows, But At What Price?

Aerial high-angle view of cars lined up for gas in the morning at a gas station during the perceived gas shortage.
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Colonial Pipeline paid $5 million in ransom to recover stolen data and resume operations, according to The New York Times. The cost was 75 bitcoin, which was transferred to the Russian hacking group DarkSide, the group responsible for the hack. The company has not commented publicly other than to say that the pipeline is open and will resume full operation soon.

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President Joe Biden warned gas station operators against price gouging, comparing price gougers to the hackers by using the crisis for financial gain.

“Do not … Do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time,” Biden said. “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.”

He encouraged Americans to report gas price gouging to state and federal officials.

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The American Automobile Association continues to report price increases. The average national price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.039, the highest since 2014 and seven cents greater than last week.

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This is not the first time DarkSide, which is one of several hacking groups, has attacked a Western company. They claim they focus on large corporations, but do not go after medical, educational or government entities, according to The Independent. In fact, they apologized for the chaos that ensued. According to Vice, DarkSide posted the statement on the dark web.

“We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for other our motives. Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society,” they wrote.

“From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”

Meanwhile, Biden asked for funding to improve national infrastructure, including cybersecurity, to reduce the chances of this happening again. His request received more urgency following the discovery of a crack on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge that carries Interstate 40 over the Mississippi River. The bridge is now closed. As Memphis is a major transportation hub on I40, this is likely to disrupt interstate commerce.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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