US declines to advise Colonial Pipeline whether to pay ransom to hackers

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A top White House national security official declined to give advice on Monday whether operators of the Colonial Pipeline should pay ransom to hackers who infiltrated its cyber network.

Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber, told reporters at a White House briefing that the FBI has been tracking the ransomware group blamed in the attack, DarkSide, since at least last October.

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A news release issued in the name of DarkSide said its goal was to make money and not create problems for society.

As to whether the US government was advising Colonial on whether to pay a ransom, Neuberger said: “Typically that is a private-sector decision and the administration has not offered further advice at this time.”

“Given the rise in ransomware, that is one area we are definitely looking at now to say what should be the government’s approach,” she said.

The US intelligence community is working to determine whether the hackers of the Colonial Pipeline have ties to the Russian government or other nation states, she said.

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