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Image by Colonial Pipeline Company, via BBC

Fossil Fuels

Pipeline Company Shut Down Its Own Pipeline, Paid Ransom

Editor’s note: Well, this is surprising, and interesting. The news about this oil pipeline shutdown seems to get weirder by the day. Here’s the latest (as far as I’ve seen).


Colonial Pipeline operators made the proactive choice to shut down the 5,500-mile pipeline, setting off gas shortages, panic, and chaos up and down the East Coast, in order to protect their own profits, CNN reports. The ransomware attack did not actually affect the Koch-owned pipeline’s operations, but did make the company concerned it wouldn’t be able to figure out how much to bill its customers. The details of the pipeline’s failure to prevent the cyberattack remain murky; as of yesterday, the company had still only shared limited data with the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security, Politico reported.

The revelation that pipeline operators shut off 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supply to protect their bottom line came just hours after Bloomberg reported the company did in fact cough up the $5 million ransom payment within hours of the attack, contradicting its earlier denials. The decryption key, which Colonial Pipeline paid hackers 75 Bitcoin for, was so slow, however, that the company was forced to continue using its own backups to restore its systems.

Sources: Pipeline shutdown: CNN; Panic and chaos: Washington Post $; DHS: Politico Pro $; Ransom and restart: Bloomberg $, GizmodoAxios); Bitcoin: New York Times $

Originally published by Nexus Media.


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