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US Fuel Pipeline ‘Paid Hackers $5m in Ransom’, Reports Claim

A major US fuel pipeline has reportedly paid cyber-criminal gang DarkSide nearly $5m (£3.6m) in ransom, following a cyber-attack. Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware cyber-attack over the weekend and took

A major US fuel pipeline has reportedly paid cyber-criminal gang DarkSide nearly $5m (£3.6m) in ransom, following a cyber-attack.

Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware cyber-attack over the weekend and took its service down for five days, causing supplies to tighten across the US.

CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal all reported a ransom was paid, citing sources.

Once they received the payment, the hackers provided the operator with a decrypting tool to restore its disabled computer network. The tool was so slow that the company continued using its own backups to help restore the system, one of the people familiar with the company’s efforts said.

On Friday, Japanese consumer tech giant Toshiba said its European division in France had been hit by the same cyber-criminal gang.

Colonial announced it would resume operations on Wednesday evening, but warned that it could take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal.

The closure saw supplies of diesel, petrol and jet fuel tighten across the US, with prices rising, an emergency waiver passed on Monday and a number of states declaring an emergency.

The 5,500-mile (8,900km) pipeline usually carries 2.5 million barrels a day on the East Coast.

US petrol prices rose on Wednesday as motorists queued to fill up their cars on the sixth day of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

The average price per gallon hit $3.008 (£2.14) – the highest level seen since October 2014, according to the Automobile Association of America.

Colonial had said initially it would not be paying the ransom demanded by the hackers.

The FBI has historically discouraged, but not prohibited, American ransomware victims from paying hackers, as a payment isn’t guaranteed to work and can encourage criminals to continue attacking others. In a press conference Monday, Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, acknowledged that some organizations might find paying the criminals off can be in their best interest.

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