Sunday, June 13

A cyberattack attributed to Russian hackers leaves much of the eastern United States without fuel.


New York

Updated:

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The price of gasoline was on Monday at its highest for the last three years – and could rise even more – after a cyberattack targeting one of the main US oil pipelines The incident occurred last Friday and, since then , most of the network Colonial Pipeline, what does the 45% of the fuel from the east coast of the country, It is out of service. The episode shows the weakness of essential infrastructures in the US in the face of computer attacks, which are increasingly frequent for, among others, electrical networks or hospitals.

Behind the attack is, as determined by the FBI, a Russian criminal group called DarkSide. It is a ransom attack, that is, taking control of company data and releasing it in exchange for money. It happened on Friday, when DarkSide apparently accessed and blocked Colonial Pipeline’s huge databases and threatened to publish them on the Internet. The company was forced to halt operations on most of its pipeline network until the intrusion was resolved and its data protected.

The pipeline connects the Houston area refineries (Texas) with industrial centers in the Southeast and Northeast of the United States and supplies fuel to states such as Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee or Alabama and ends in New Jersey, where it also distributes oil to neighboring New York . Through its network of almost 9,000 kilometers, 2.5 million barrels of fuel are transported every day. Already this weekend restrictions began to be detected in gas stations, in addition to the increase in prices.

Connection with Russia

The president of the USA, Joe Biden, referred to the incident on Monday and assured that at the moment no evidence has been found that there are links between DarkSide and Russia, as happened in the recent massive cyberattack by the software company SolarWinds.

“But there is evidence that the actors of the extortion are in Russia. They have responsibility in this, “he said about the Government of Vladimir Putin, with whom Biden plans to meet this summer and to whom, he added, will raise complaints about these episodes.

Anne Neuberger, the Biden Administration’s top cybersecurity official, said the White House has determined that DarkSide is a “criminal group,” but is investigating the possibility that it has ties to a country.

Strengthen cybersecurity

It is expected that in the next few days Biden will approve an executive action to strengthen the cybersecurity of US infrastructures. The president mentioned it as a new way to sell his infrastructure spending and employment plan, much fought by Republicans.

DarkSide, which has a page on the ‘dark web’, assures that he has obtained multimillion-dollar ransoms with his extortions. Yesterday he issued a brief press release in which he did not specifically take responsibility for the attack on Colonial Pipeline, but assured that “on the latest news, our goal is to make money, not create problems for society.” He also said that the group is “apolitical” and that they have no ties to any particular government.

As Colonial Pipeline has communicated, The dangers of “ransomware”: the great threat of companies on the Internet will be operational at the end of this week and there will be a gradual recovery of supply in the coming days.

Neither the company nor the Biden Administration provided information on whether any money has been paid to DarkSide so that the pipeline can resume operations.

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