Colonial Pipeline CEO Confirms Ransom Payment

CEO Joseph Blount says the $4.4 million payment was a necessary decision amid high-stakes infrastructure disruption.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

May 20, 2021

1 Min Read

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount has publicly confirmed for the first time that he authorized a ransom payment of $4.4 million following a recent cyberattack on the energy company that forced a shutdown of approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline in the United States.

The Colonial Pipeline provides roughly 45% of the fuel for the East Coast. In an interview, Blount told The Wall Street Journal that he felt he had to pay because of the high stakes involved in the disruption of critical energy infrastructure.

"I know that’s a highly controversial decision," Blount said to the WSJ. "I didn’t make it lightly. I will admit that I wasn't comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this."

US officials have attributed the attack to ransomware group DarkSide. Blount said he chose to meet the attackers' demands because "executives were unsure how badly the cyberattack had breached its systems or how long it would take to bring the pipeline back." 

The WSJ report can be found here.

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Dark Reading Staff

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