We regret ‘creating problems’, say Colonial petroleum pipeline hackers

The hacker group blamed for this weekend’s ransomware attack on the Colonial petroleum pipeline has insisted it only wanted to make money and regretted “creating problems for society”.

In a statement posted on Monday, the criminal group known as DarkSide said it was “apolitical” and attempted to deflect blame for the attack on to “partners” that had used its ransomware technology.

The hack has taken a key US oil pipeline offline for three days, threatening to drive up fuel prices and forcing the US government to bring in emergency powers to keep supplies flowing.

“Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society,” DarkSide said, adding that it would “check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future”.

Ransomware attacks involve hackers taking control of an organisation’s data or software systems, locking out the owners using encryption until a payment is made.

DarkSide emerged as one of the leading ransomware outfits last August, and is believed to be run from Russia by an experienced team of online criminals. Silicon Valley-based cyber security company CrowdStrike has traced DarkSide’s origins to the criminal hacking group known as Carbon Spider, which “dramatically overhauled their operations” last year to focus on the fast-growing field of ransomware.

“We are a new product on the market, but that does not mean that we have no experience and we came from nowhere,” DarkSide has said previously.

Brett Callow, an analyst at the cyber security group Emisoft, said: “DarkSide doesn’t eat in Russia. It checks the language used by the system and, if it’s Russian, it quits without encrypting.”

He added that the group rented out its services on the dark web. “DarkSide is a ransomware-as-a-service operation. I assume the attack on Colonial was carried out by an affiliate and the group is concerned about the level of attention it has attracted.”

In a sign of how ransomware has become a professionalised industry, DarkSide operates its own “press office” and claims to have an ethical approach to choosing its targets. DarkSide’s website claims that “based on our…