The cyberattack late last week against one of the United States’ most important fuel pipelines appears to have been the work of Darkside, a Russian ransomware group.
NBC News reported that the FBI has confirmed that Darkside caused the attack on the Colonial Pipeline, and that Darkside has themselves claimed responsibility. The pipeline in question runs 5,500 miles between Texas and New Jersey.
“The DarkSide ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks,” the FBI said in a statement. “We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation."
Ransomware involves hackers attacking a network, locking the target out of their files, and demanding a ransom in order to unlock them.
“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,” the Darkside group posted on its website, per NBC. “Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”
The attack, which has caused the pipeline itself to go offline, is likely to cause fuel supply disruptions, leading to higher gas prices. It’s unclear, however, whether a gas price spike would be for just a few days, or for longer than that.
“It is true that if the pipeline remains out of service into the early part of next week, roughly Tuesday or so, that some gas stations may run low on gasoline,” GasBuddy said this week. “Tank farms that take the gasoline from the pipeline are likely starting to see supply run low, so it is vital that motorists do not overwhelm the system by filling their tanks.”
Meanwhile, according to a local news report by KX News, gas prices have already begun to rise in the Southeast.
“It’s certainly something you want to keep an eye on. Anytime cybersecurity criminals can impact supplies in the united states. That’s something we need to keep an eye on, or some level of worry about,” the director of Public Affairs for AAA, Gene LaDoucer, told the TV station.
As of May 3, per GasBuddy, the average gas price in the U.S. was $2.89 per gallon. That’s 1.8 cents higher than it was a month ago and $1.13 per gallon higher than in May of 2020, when prices were unusually low during the early days of the pandemic.
“The nation’s gas prices perked up again last week as oil prices advanced to fresh multi-year highs on Covid improvements overseas and the switch to summer gasoline, which is basically now complete,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said in the May 3 report.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.