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Biden says he sees no evidence of involvement by Russian government in pipeline hack

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday (May 10) there was no evidence so far that Russia was involved in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

“I’m going to be meeting with President Putin, and so far there is no evidence based on, from our intelligence people, that Russia is involved, although there’s evidence that the actors’ ransomware is in Russia,” Biden said. “They have some responsibility to deal with this.”

Biden said the U.S. government was initiating a partnership with the private sector to mitigate blows inflicted by ransomware and other cyber attacks on the nation’s infrastructure.

A group of cybercriminals allegedly responsible for the ransomware attack that shut the largest fuel pipeline in the United States said it only wants to make money, not disrupt society, as the Biden administration scrambled to help restore the network. The attack is believed to have originated within Russia but a link to the government of President Vladimir Putin has not been drawn.

Colonial Pipeline, in its fourth day of shutdown, said it has a phased restart program and hopes to “substantially” restore service by the end of the week.

The attack on Colonial, source of nearly half of the fuel on the U.S. East Coast, is one of the most disruptive digital ransom schemes reported.

The hack triggered worries of retail gasoline spikes and laid bare the vulnerabilities of U.S. energy infrastructure to hackers.

The FBI on Monday pinned the blame on the cyber group DarkSide. A statement in the group’s name said “our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society.” Its statement did not mention Colonial Pipeline by name.

DarkSide could be based in Russia or Eastern Europe, according to experts, because its ransomware is rigged to avoid encrypting computers set to use Russian, Ukrainian, Kazakh, or other language keyboards associated with the former Soviet republics.

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock down systems by encrypting data and demanding payment to regain access. It is unknown how much money the hackers are seeking, and Colonial has not commented on whether it would pay.

(Production: George Tamerlani)

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