Russian Ransomware Group Suspected in Colonial Pipeline Hack

Cybersecurity experts and a former U.S. official now suspect cyber crime group DarkSide of the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline.

DarkSide is a new cyber crime organization that experts believe is composed of mostly veteran hackers and cyber criminals. They are one of a number of “professionalized” digital criminal organizations that have sprung up in recent months.

“They’re very new but they’re very organized,” chief executive of Cybereason Lior Div told Reuters on Sunday evening.

Div noted that more than 10 of companies that pay for security from Cybereason have experienced hacks from the group in the past months. DarkSide mostly employs ransomware, software designed to encrypt a users data and hold it until the user pays a ransom for it.

A student from Georgia Tech has analyzed DarkSide’s programs and has published an analysis. Chuong Dong wrote that DarkSide’s ransomware is “pretty standard” and nothing special by cybersecurity standards.

DarkSide famously has a “Wall of Shame” on their dark web site, which hosts all of the user data for those who did not pay the ransom. Unlike most traditional hacker groups, DarkSide makes press releases and encourages journalists to make use of the data they steal. They allegedly donate to charity and even have a “code of conduct” which is designed to make them seem more reliable to prospective employers.

In response to the Colonial Pipeline hack, which has tied up the transportation of critically needed gasoline, the U.S. has approved emergency legislation. The bill allows for an easing of regulations for transportation of gas on the road, allowing drivers to put in extra hours to compensate for supply loss.

Many in the cybersecurity community believe this hack to be a large misstep by the presumed perpetrator DarkSide. Div told Reuters that “it’s not good for business when the U.S. government (and the FBI) become involved.” 

The FBI and U.S. officials are reportedly working on bringing Colonial’s servers back online, but market analysts believe there will be “big trouble” if things aren’t fixed soon. The pipeline provides gas to states as far south as Tennessee and stretches its reach all the way up to New York.

According to a report by the BBC, oil future traders are currently “scrambling” to meet increased demand. Gas has been in significantly higher demand since U.S. citizens have begun going back to work and the U.S. economy has been pushing full steam ahead.

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