Russia denies responsibility in pipeline cyberattack

Colonial Pipeline company in Baltimore
Getty Images

Russia’s Embassy in the U.S. denied that Moscow was behind a cyberattack affecting a major American fuel pipeline on Monday, and blamed some reporters for furthering “baseless fabrications” about the hack’s origin.

On Friday, Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil supplier in the northeastern U.S., shut down operations after it reported a ransomware attack. The pipeline accounts for almost half of the East Coast’s fuel supply, and ships over 2 million barrels of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel daily. 

In a Facebook post late Monday evening, the Russian Embassy wrote that it “categorically reject[s] the baseless fabrications of individual journalists and reiterate[s] that Russia does not conduct ‘malicious’ activity in the virtual space.”

“The Embassy took note of the attempts of some media to accuse Russia of a cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline. At the same time, the US authorities blame the accident on the DarkSide criminal group and do not attribute it to any particular countries,” it continued.

Ответ Посольства Российской Федерации в Соединенных Штатах Америки на вопрос СМИ относительно кибератаки на Colonial…

Posted by Embassy of Russia in the USA / Посольство России в США on Monday, May 10, 2021

The denial echoed Moscow’s previous comments on malicious cyber activity in the U.S., including the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion that Russia was behind the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) servers and other efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Russia has not been officially named by U.S. officials as the culprit behind the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

However, the event has underscored the growing threat of ransomware and cyberattacks that have occurred over the past few years. In particular, U.S. intelligence and cyber agencies have pointed to Russian hackers as the culprit in the SolarWinds hack, which successfully breached nine federal agencies last year. 

Cyberattacks increased amid the pandemic, when millions were forced to work from home virtually to maintain social distancing. 

The Colonial Pipeline closure was causing serious fuel shortages across the U.S. Southeast by Monday evening, with customers in various states reporting gas stations totally sold out of gasoline.

–Updated at 11:39 a.m.

Tags Colonial Pipeline cyberattacks Cybercrime Hacking

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