The owner of the Colonial Pipeline paid hackers about $5 million in bitcoin to regain access to its data and end a standoff that forced one of the country’s largest energy pipelines offline, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.
Details of the payments were first reported by Bloomberg News and The New York Times, and cited sources familiar with the ransom. The ransom amounted to about 75 bitcoin, a hard-to-trace cryptocurrency.
The 5,500-mile pipeline was forced to temporarily shut down late last week after a cybersecurity attack that investigators said was launched by the international criminal gang known as DarkSide. Hackers from the group infiltrated the company’s network and infected it with ransomware, which demands a company pay to unlock the files or they will be released to the public.
Colonial preemptively powered down its pipeline, which supplies a stretch of the United States down the East Coast, creating a small crisis that prompted a surge in gas prices and long lines at gas stations in multiple states.
DarkSide is believed to be located somewhere in Russia or Eastern Europe.
In a statement to the Times, Colonial did not confirm it had paid any ransom. However, the company had previously said it had no plans to pay the extortion money.
President Joe Biden said Thursday the pipeline was in the process of restoring service. He told Americans it would take time before everything was fully operational and for the stabilization in supply to be felt at the gas pump.
“They should be reaching full operational capacity as we speak, as I speak to you right now,” Biden said at the White House. “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.”
Colonial said Thursday afternoon that while it had made “substantial progress” restarting the pipeline system, it will take “several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.”