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Report: Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4M to hackers because company didn't know how bad breach was

On May 8, the company said they responded to the attack by taking some systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted its pipeline operations.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Colonial Pipeline had a difficult decision to make after the company was impacted by a cyberattack that halted its pipeline operations.

Ultimately, Joseph Blount the CEO of the Alpharetta-based company, approved a $4.4 million payment to hackers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Blount reportedly told the news organization they paid the ransom because they didn't know how bad the breach was or how long it would take to get the pipeline up and going again.

On Saturday, May 8, the company said they responded to the attack by taking some systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted its pipeline operations. They launched an investigation and contacted law enforcement.  

The WSJ reported Blount felt paying the ransom was the option they had to take, calling it "the right thing to do" for the nation, even though he wasn't comfortable with it. 

The company is one of the nation's largest sources of fuelIt's responsible for almost half of the entire East Coast's fuel supply.

RELATED: Colonial Pipeline restarting operations, but markets could still experience interruptions

On May 12 around 5 p.m., Colonial Pipeline announced it had restarted its operations. The company admitted that it would take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.  

During the period of the shutdown, people panicked and drained fuel supply in several states along the South and the East, including in Georgia. Officials urged drivers not to hoard gas, but many gas stations across metro Atlanta were depleted.

Some experts estimate Georgia's gas stations could still face outages and shortages over the next few days into Memorial Day weekend, as Colonial Pipeline's supply chain catches up. 

Wednesday evening, Patrick De Hann of Gas Buddy tweeted a list of gas outages by state. Georgia was down to 33 percent around 7 p.m.