As the nation reels from the large-scale cyberattack that struck the Colonial Pipeline Company last week, the Biden administration appeared to back away from the situation, explaining that it’s a “private sector decision” to determine whether or not the company should pay the hacker’s ransom.
On Friday, the Colonial Pipeline Company released a statement announcing that it had been affected by a cyber attack which caused them to take “certain systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.” The pipeline delivers nearly 45% of all fuel expended in the east coast of the United States.
Colonial Pipeline updated the statement on Saturday to include that they have “determined that this incident involves ransomware.”
“Leading, third-party cybersecurity experts were also immediately engaged after discovering the issue and launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident. We have remained in contact with law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy who is leading the Federal Government response,” the statement continued.
While most of the systems are still offline, the company released another update on Monday in which they said that some segments of the pipeline “are being brought back online in a stepwise fashion, in compliance with relevant federal regulations and in close consultation with the Department of Energy, which is leading and coordinating the Federal Government’s response.”
The FBI released a statement saying that “Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks.” However, Colonial Pipeline has not mentioned whether or not that they have paid the ransom, nor have they released any statement regarding the Darkside group at this time.
— FBI (@FBI) May 10, 2021
When the Biden administration was asked if they would provide advice to Colonial Pipeline at a White House press briefing, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber & Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger said it’s a “private sector decision” to determine if the company should pay the ransom.
Biden White House: It’s a “private sector decision” as to whether a ransom will be paid to bring the Colonial Pipeline back online pic.twitter.com/6p59SDYgdS
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 10, 2021
“We recognize that victims of cyber attacks often face a difficult situation and they have to just balance often the cost-benefit when they have no choice with regard to paying a ransom. Colonial is a private company and we’ll defer information regarding their decision on paying a ransom to them,” said Neuberger. “So typically, that is a private sector decision and the administration has not offered further advice at this time.”
“Given the rise in ransomware, that is one area we are definitely looking at now to say what should be the government’s approach to ransomware actors and to ransoms overall,” she added.
This comes shortly after it was revealed that the Biden administration is planning cyber attacks against Russia for their alleged involvement behind the devastating SolarWinds breach which allegedly struck the American IT management company in March, seemingly ignoring reports that the FBI learned of Chinese state-sponsored hackers exploiting the company’s software, as National File reported.
“While the mainstream media continues to suggest that Russia was behind the cyber attack, the FBI has learned that Chinese hackers used the SolarWinds breach to spy on government agencies, potentially compromising thousands of government employees, as National File reported.
National File has reported on the many questionable connections between SolarWinds and China, including the groundbreaking cyber attack which struck SolarWinds shortly after they expanded business partnerships into China with M.Tech.”