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FBI confirms criminal group DarkSide responsible for pipeline cyberattack, emergency declared

The pipeline supplies nearly half of the East Coast's fuel supply.

Updated: May 10, 2021 - 2:34pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The FBI confirmed Monday the Russia-based criminal operation DarkSide is responsible for the recent recent cyberattack that has shut down the Colonial Pipeline that supplies the East Coast with 45% of its fuel supply.

"The FBI confirms that the Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks. We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation," the bureau said in a statement.

The corporate pipeline typically carries over 100 million gallons of oil from Texas to the Northeast everyday, but since Friday the service has been inoperable. 

President Biden on Monday afternoon called the ransomware incident a "criminal" activity. He also said there's no evidence so far to show the Russian government is directly connected in DarkSide, known to extort corporations.

The cyber attacks by DarkSide paralyze company networks and are followed by a demanding a large ransom in exchange for undoing the damage.

Colonial said Sunday it was developing a "system restart" plan, but the company did not say what demands were made and whether it plans to pay or negotiate a ransom.

“We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations,” the company said in a statement.

DarkSide has been active since August, according to reports, and claims to not harm hospitals, nursing homes, educational or government targets and also claims to donate a portion of ransoms to charity. 

"Debnil Chowdhury, at the research firm IHSMarkit, said of the outage could last several weeks and result in gas prices increasing 15 to 20-cent a gallon over next week or two.

The Department of Transportation is working with oil and gas carriers to relax regulations for any fuel shortages.

Meanwhile, company, state and local officials are working together to restore normal operations as a regional emergency declaration has been issued for 17 states and D.C. amid the online threat that could soon see major effects for consumers at gas stations.