Colonial Pipeline CEO Explains Why He Made Ransomware Hackers Rich

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount
Colonial Pipeline/Facebook

The CEO of Colonial Pipeline, Joseph Blount, has attempted to explain why he chose to pay a $4.4 million ransom to hackers that took the pipeline’s system hostage. According to one expert, the Colonial Pipeline payoff will “help keep United States critical infrastructure providers in the crosshairs.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the CEO of the Colonial Pipeline, Joseph Blount, recently explained why he chose to pay hackers a $4.4 million ransom in order to regain access to the pipeline’s systems.

Blount recently acknowledges that the company paid the ransom, saying that it was an option that he felt he had to exercise given the danger involved in the shutdown of such critical energy infrastructure.

Blount stated: “I know that’s a highly controversial decision. I didn’t make it lightly. I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this.” He added: “But it was the right thing to do for the country.”

In return for the ransom payment of around 75 Bitcoin, the company received a decryption tool to unlock its systems that had been hijacked by hackers. The tool proved to be of some use but ultimately wasn’t enough to immediately restore the pipeline’s systems.

The pipeline transports gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined products from the Gulf Coast to Linden, New Jersey, and was shut down for six days as a result of the hack. This spurred a run on gasoline along parts of the East coast pushing prices to the highest levels in more than six years and left thousands of gas stations without fuel.

Brett Callow, a threat analyst at antivirus company Emsisoft, commented on the Colonial Pipeline attack and the decision to pay the ransom, stating: “I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s certainly disappointing. Unfortunately, it’ll help keep United States critical infrastructure providers in the crosshairs. If a sector proves to be profitable, they’ll keep on hitting it.”

Morgan Wright, the Chief Security Advisor at SentinelOne and former Senior Advisor of the U.S. State Department and the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, appeared on Breitbart News Daily recently to speak with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief and host of Breitbart News Daily, Alex Marlow. The key topic of the day was the rise in ransomware attacks and the recent cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline.

Discussing the motivations of the hackers, Wright said: “I think one of the underreported things about this, and I think it’s a day of reckoning, is the use of cryptocurrency to enable these groups to continue their activities. In other words, if you remove the ability to monetize this, these gangs are out of business because they’re only in it for one reason — to make money. So I think there’ll be a day of reckoning with how countries look at the use of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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