Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Colonial Pipeline Co

China Breached Dozens of Pipeline Companies in Past Decade, U.S. Says

China Breached Dozens of Pipeline Companies in Past Decade, U.S. Says

Technology
The Biden administration disclosed previously classified details on Tuesday about the breadth of state-sponsored cyberattacks on American oil and gas pipelines over the past decade, as part of a warning to pipeline owners to increase the security of their systems to stave off future attacks.From 2011 to 2013, Chinese-backed hackers targeted, and in many cases breached, nearly two dozen companies that own such pipelines, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security revealed in an alert on Tuesday. For the first time, the agencies said they judged that the “intrusions were likely intended to gain strategic access” to the industrial control networks that run the pipelines “for future operations rather than for intellectual property theft.” In other words, the hackers were preparing to t...
Bitcoin and Encryption: A Race Between Criminals and the F.B.I.

Bitcoin and Encryption: A Race Between Criminals and the F.B.I.

Technology
Law enforcement also has an advantage when it gets ahold of digital devices. Despite claims from Apple, Google and even the Justice Department that smartphones are largely impenetrable, thousands of law enforcement agencies have tools that can infiltrate the latest phones to extract data.“Police today are facing a situation of an explosion of data,” said Yossi Carmil, the chief executive of Cellebrite, an Israeli company that has sold data extraction tools to more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies, including hundreds of small police departments across the United States. “The solutions are there. There is no real challenge to accessing the data.”The police also have an easier time getting to data stored in the cloud. Technology companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft regularly turn ove...
Bitcoin Is Actually Traceable, Pipeline Investigation Shows

Bitcoin Is Actually Traceable, Pipeline Investigation Shows

Technology
When Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2009, fans heralded the cryptocurrency as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct transactions outside the traditional financial system.Criminals, often operating in hidden reaches of the internet, flocked to Bitcoin to do illicit business without revealing their names or locations. The digital currency quickly became as popular with drug dealers and tax evaders as it was with contrarian libertarians.But this week’s revelation that federal officials had recovered most of the Bitcoin ransom paid in the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack exposed a fundamental misconception about cryptocurrencies: They are not as hard to track as cybercriminals think.On Monday, the Justice Department announced it had traced 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins — so...
U.S. Seizes Share of Ransom From Hackers in Colonial Pipeline Attack

U.S. Seizes Share of Ransom From Hackers in Colonial Pipeline Attack

Business
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said on Monday that it had seized much of the ransom that a major U.S. pipeline operator had paid last month to a Russian hacking collective, turning the tables on the hackers by reaching into a digital wallet to snatch back millions of dollars in cryptocurrency.Investigators in recent weeks traced 75 Bitcoins worth more than $4 million that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the hackers as the attack shut down its computer systems, prompting fuel shortages, a spike in gasoline prices and chaos at airlines.Federal investigators tracked the ransom as it moved through a maze of at least 23 different electronic accounts belonging to DarkSide, the hacking group, before landing in one that a federal judge allowed them to break into, according to law enforcement of...
Are We Waiting for Everyone to Get Hacked?

Are We Waiting for Everyone to Get Hacked?

Technology
‘Playing with fire’These days, Mr. Panetta has swapped analogies. Like most Californians, he has fire on his mind. The former secretary of defense resides on his family’s old walnut farm turned vineyard in the parched Carmel Valley, where the surrounding hills are still singed from last year’s fires. The entire state is bracing for another inferno. And Mr. Panetta can’t help but see our digital woes through a ring of fire.“You know cyber is a little bit like playing with fire,” he reflected on a recent afternoon. “You’re not quite sure just how something is going to play out. It could blow back on you from a dozen different directions.”Before Mr. Panetta served as defense secretary, he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency, between 2009 and 2011. And it was during his tenure ther...
White House Warns Companies to Act Now on Ransomware Defenses

White House Warns Companies to Act Now on Ransomware Defenses

Technology
Last week, Mr. Biden acted through executive order in an effort to force some of those changes on the pipeline industry, using the Transportation Safety Administration’s oversight powers on the pipeline industry.In the absence of comprehensive government mandates, however, cybersecurity practices have been voluntary. The result is that many businesses and other organizations have been, in effect, left to fend for themselves. And the latest ransomware attacks have exposed the extent to which American cities, town governments, police departments and even the one of the ferry services between Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have failed to erect sufficient defenses.The latest attack on one of the world’s largest suppliers of beef, JBS, for example, was pulled off by a Russian group k...
Irish Hospitals Hit by Cyberattacks, Forcing an I.T. Shutdown

Irish Hospitals Hit by Cyberattacks, Forcing an I.T. Shutdown

Technology
Health network officials have described the attack as “highly sophisticated” and claim attackers used an undiscovered bug in software known as a zero-day to breach their systems. They did not name the affected software and did not provide evidence to back up their claims.However, FireEye, the cybersecurity firm, released a report last month that found a ransomware group used a zero-day in SonicWall VPN security devices to breach organizations. Typically, ransomware gangs are known to break in using unpatched software, weak passwords or phishing attacks. The use of zero-days would mark a major advance in criminals’ tactics, and increase the likelihood that they can break into organizations’ networks undetected.Ransomware attacks against hospitals surged after two separate efforts — one by t...
Colonial Pipeline Now Delivering ‘Millions of Gallons’ an Hour, Owner Says

Colonial Pipeline Now Delivering ‘Millions of Gallons’ an Hour, Owner Says

Business
HOUSTON — The Colonial Pipeline, which delivers nearly half the transportation fuel to the Southeast and New York area, resumed full operations on Saturday, eight days after it was shut down by a ransomware attack.It will still take days before gasoline stations around Washington, D.C., and the Southeast return to normal service, since nearly 2,000 outlets ran out of fuel and it takes time to restock.Prices at the pump have stabilized, though. Average prices of regular gasoline in Tennessee and South Carolina, two of the hardest hit states, rose by only a penny on Saturday, according to the AAA motor club. Nationwide, gasoline prices remained stable at $3.04, eight cents higher than a week ago. Prices in the states most affected by the shutdown rose by as much as 20 cents a gallon in the l...
Pipeline Attack Reveals Weaknesses in U.S. Cybersecurity

Pipeline Attack Reveals Weaknesses in U.S. Cybersecurity

Technology
For years, government officials and industry executives have run elaborate simulations of a targeted cyberattack on the power grid or gas pipelines in the United States, imagining how the country would respond.But when the real, this-is-not-a-drill moment arrived, it didn’t look anything like the war games.The attacker was not a terror group or a hostile state like Russia, China or Iran, as had been assumed in the simulations. It was a criminal extortion ring. The goal was not to disrupt the economy by taking a pipeline offline but to hold corporate data for ransom.The most visible effects — long lines of nervous motorists at gas stations — stemmed not from a government response but from a decision by the victim, Colonial Pipeline, which controls nearly half the gasoline, jet fuel and dies...
Colonial Pipeline Paid Roughly $5 Million in Ransom to Hackers

Colonial Pipeline Paid Roughly $5 Million in Ransom to Hackers

Business
In a separate ransomware attack on the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, hackers said the price the police offered to pay was “too small” and dumped 250 gigabytes of the department’s data online this week, including databases that track gang members.In his remarks on Thursday, Mr. Biden seized on the Colonial Pipeline hack as further proof that the United States needed to improve its critical infrastructure, and he urged lawmakers to back his $2.3 trillion proposal to rebuild roads, bridges, pipelines and other projects.Republicans have balked at the size of Mr. Biden’s proposals, accusing the president of wanting to raise taxes to pay for things that they do not consider infrastructure, like programs for home health aides. Mr. Biden has proposed to increase taxes on wealth...