What You Should Know About the Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack

Hey FixMeFans! We’ve got more news for you on the Colonial Pipeline attack. A group of cybercriminals is behind the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline; the largest pipeline in the United States responsible for transporting hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel from Texas to the Northeast every single day.

After nearly a week of shutdown, the pipeline is back in business, but not without a few major hiccups along the way.

Keep on reading to learn the who, what, and why of the Colonial Pipeline cyber attack.

An image of ransomware.
A group of cybercriminals by the name of DarkSide is alleged to be behind the ransomware attack.

Who is Responsible?

The attack is alleged to have been conducted by a Russian cybercrime group by the name of “DarkSide“, and has resulted in a halt of operations, and a Declaration of Emergency by the Department of Transportation.

While the culprits have not been officially declared, several outlets have purported DarkSide responsible. Time Magazine describes DarkSide as “a ransomware gang that has ‘professionalized’ a criminal industry that has cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in losses”. DarkSide seems to view itself as a Robin Hood figure, claiming to donate a portion of their extorted loot to charity.

An image of a pipeline, similar to the recent one from the ransomware attack.
The Colonial Pipeline delivers nearly half of all fuel to the Northeast.

Why Colonial Pipeline?

Colonial Pipeline is the largest transporter of gas and fuel in the United States, delivering nearly half of all fuel on the Northeast. While it is less common for attacks to be brought upon national infrastructure, it can be incredibly lucrative.

Ransomware is used to lock up a user’s computer, demanding large sums of money to decrypt your files and gain control of your system once again. Therefore, attacking large-scale companies’ security vulnerability can leave one with the opportunity to extort massive sums of money.

What Really Happened?

The attack can be classified as a “backdoor” attack, a typical element of ransomware, wherein cybersecurity vulnerabilities are taken advantage of unbeknownst to the victim. According to Bloomberg, the hackers “began their blitz against the company a day earlier, stealing a large amount of data before locking computers with ransomware and demanding payment”. The criminals were able to steal up to 100 GB of data!

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount has since announced that a ransom payment to the tune of $4.4 million has been paid to the hackers in order to reconcile the situation. Executives have also stated over the weekend, “that its pipeline had resumed normal operations and was delivering millions of gallons of gasoline per hour up and down the East Coast“.

Despite the pipeline resuming service, the nation is still facing an incredible gas shortage. CNBC reported:

In Washington, the nation’s capital, 80% of gas stations are without fuel, according to the latest data from GasBuddy. In North Carolina 63% of stations are short, in Georgia and South Carolina more than 40%, and in Virginia 38%.

Emma Newburger, CNBC

Some Americans have resorted to panic buying and hoarding large amounts of gasoline to get in before the prices skyrocket even more. Panic buying however has only increased demand, and inevitably may raise the prices even higher.

An image of a gas station that will likely be affected by the ransomware attack.
Gas stations across the United States are facing major fuel shortages.

What Now?

Cyber attacks are becoming more and more common on this large scale, and many are taking this as a lesson on the importance of cybersecurity. Check out our article on ransomware if you want to learn more, and remember to always keep your computer clean of malware by running a FixMeStick scan every single month!

Gas prices will likely continue to rise as Colonial Pipeline’s largest line works to replenish shortages across the nation, with the “average gasoline price jumping six cents to $2.96 over the past week“, so don’t plan any long road trips for the time being!

Energy industry experts are urging Americans not to hoard gasoline as the pipeline is now becoming fully operational, as hoarding only worsens the current situation.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

2 comments

  1. Carol -

    Ordered a FixMeStick several years ago. Has there been updates I am no aware of, or can the FixMeStick still clean up my computer? It is acting very sluggish.

  2. Jonathan -

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for reaching out to us!

    We constantly release new updates for the FixMeStick software. However, if your scan results show that your computer is clean of viruses, then the speed of your computer is more likely caused by an issue unrelated to viruses. Contributing factors could be how long ago the computer was purchased, the number of programs and files you have on your computer, and your computer’s memory.

    There are a few simple tasks you can do to help speed up your computer. Follow these instructions from the FixMeStick Knowledge Base to improve your computer’s speed:
    https://support.fixmestick.com/hc/en-us/articles/360006339194-My-Computer-is-Still-Slow-After-Running-FixMeStick-

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