NEW YORK (AP) — The operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline has confirmed it paid $4.4 million to a gang of hackers who broke into its computer systems. Colonial Pipeline’s CEO Joseph Blount told The Wall Street Journal that he authorized the payment after the ransomware attack because the company didn’t know the extent of the damage. The FBI discourages making payments to ransomware attackers, because that just encourages criminal networks around the globe. But many victims of ransomware attacks opt to pay.
Full statement from the Colonial Pipeline Company:
“Colonial Pipeline is critical to the economic and national security of our nation. When we were attacked on May 7, a decision was quickly made to take our entire system offline. We needed to do everything in our power to restart the system quickly and safely. The decision was made to pay the ransom. This decision was not made lightly, however, one that had to be made. Tens of millions of Americans rely on Colonial – hospitals, emergency medical services, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, airports, truck drivers and the traveling public. Our focus remains on continued operations to safely deliver refined products to communities we serve.”