KEY POINTS

  • Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid $5 million in ransom to a group of hackers
  • The cyberattack forced the company to shut down 5,000 miles of its pipeline
  • The closure led to a surge in gas prices and fuel outages in several states

President Joe Biden refused to comment on reports that Colonial Pipeline Co. paid a ransom to hackers after it fell victim to a cyberattack last week. 

The company paid a criminal cyber group known as DarkSide nearly $5 million after the perpetrators attacked its business networks using ransomware, two people familiar with the transaction told Bloomberg. It is unclear when the payments took place. 

When reporters asked Biden whether he knew about the company’s ransom payment, he responded: “I have no comment on that.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters during a press briefing that the administration firmly believes the federal government should not pay ransoms to hackers. 

Last week’s attack on Colonial Pipeline forced the company to shut down an estimated 5,500 miles of its pipeline, which transports more than 100 million gallons of fuel daily. 

The closure led to fuel shortages that caused a jump in gas prices and panic buying in many U.S. states. In North Carolina, roughly 68% of gas stations reported fuel outages. Almost half of the gas stations in Georgia, South Carolina, Washington D.C., and Virginia also reported outages. 

The company on Wednesday evening announced that it had restored operations and began to resume fuel shipments. However, Biden said it would take time to resolve the shortages and warned gas stations not to engage in price gouging. 

“They should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak, as I speak to you right now,” Biden said in remarks Thursday. “That is good news. But we want to be clear: We will not feel the effects at the pump immediately. This is not like flicking on a light switch.”

He also urged Americans not to hoard gasoline in the regions affected by fuel shortages or outages. “We expect the situation to begin to improve by the weekend and into early next week, and gasoline supply is coming back online, and panic buying will only slow the process,” he added. 

The president did not rule out any possibility that the U.S. would pursue a retaliatory strike against the cybercriminals.

Joe Biden previosusly pledged to distribute 60 million AstraZeneca doses, with India expected to be a recipient Joe Biden previosusly pledged to distribute 60 million AstraZeneca doses, with India expected to be a recipient Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB