The Colonial Pipeline Shutdown – How No One is Safe From Ransomware

The Colonial Pipeline Shutdown – How No One is Safe From Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are a major IT security concern impacting a wide range of industries. Unfortunately, one of the most high-profile ransomware attacks occurred a couple of weeks ago against Colonial Pipeline, which accounts for almost half of the fuel along the east coast of the United States. This ransomware attack forced the shutdown of its operations and created a significant gas shortage across many states. A lack of fuel due to a ransomware attack is a major cybersecurity concern, as even President Biden was briefed on the attack.


Who is Responsible for the Colonial Pipeline Attack?

A Russian-affiliated cybercriminal gang known as "DarkSide" is responsible for the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline. This attack forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down for five days, which created a significant spike in gasoline prices across the east coast. Initially, Colonial Pipeline didn't plan on making a ransom payment, but they eventually relented and paid over $5 million in cryptocurrency to DarkSide. Once the payment was made, the hackers provided a decrypting tool for Colonial Pipeline to regain access to its network.


How Did This Ransomware Attack Occur?

The hackers targeted Colonial Pipeline by stealing around 100 gigabytes of data on May 6, which they held hostage in a double extortion scheme. These cybercriminals threatened to leak this information if a ransom wasn't paid. Colonial Pipeline decided to suspend some of its operations to prevent ransomware from spreading to other areas. Eventually, Colonial Pipeline gave in to the demands of these hackers by paying 75 BTC, which is currently worth around $5 million.


Why No One is Safe From Ransomware

Ransomware attacks often target organizations small and large, as no one is ever safe from these evolving threats. The number of remote employees creates even more risks for companies, as many people don't realize the danger of ransomware schemes. Educating employees on how to recognize ransomware and social engineering schemes is essential in keeping your data safe from these criminals. Ransomware-as-a-Service also continues to become more widespread on the dark web, as it allows cybercriminals to purchase ransomware variants to target specific organizations.


Tips to Stay Proactive Against Ransomware Attacks

Looking at ways to stay proactive against ransomware is essential in reducing the chance of becoming a victim of these schemes. One way to keep your information safer is to upload all of your critical data onto the cloud. Enabling the creation of automatic data backups in real-time is important to ensure this data remains up to date. Downloading the latest software patches and routinely scanning your computer for malware is another key aspect of IT security.


Educating employees on the importance of not downloading unscanned email attachments or clicking on embedded links is essential in reducing the chance of your computer or network becoming infected with ransomware. The lucrative nature of these attacks will only cause ransomware to become even more prevalent. Taking these additional security steps is critical in giving your organization the best protection against ransomware.