Nearly 90% of Washington D.C's gas stations are out of fuel

Gas runs out in Joe’s backyard: 88% of D.C’s gas stations are empty as fuel price climbs to $3.04 a gallon after Colonial Pipeline reopens: Russian hackers DarkSide ‘shut down’ after getting $5M ransom

  • Nearly 90 percent of Washington DC’s gas stations had run out of fuel by Friday
  • It came despite Colonial Pipeline ramping up deliveries in the wake of the cyberattack that shut down its system for six days   
  • Widespread panic buying is still ongoing, which has left filling stations across the Southeast out of gas – even in areas far from the pipeline
  • The average national gasoline price climbed to almost $3.04 on Friday, which the most expensive since October 2014   
  • DarkSide, the Russian-based group responsible for the attack that crippled the pipeline, has since claimed they would be shutting down 
  • They claimed the closure was because of pressure from the US government and probing from law enforcement 
  • President Biden on Thursday vowed the US would take measures to disrupt the ability of cyber criminal groups 

The Russian hackers behind the Colonial Pipeline attack now claim they are shutting down after getting a $5 million ransom – as nearly 90 percent of Washington DC’s gas stations ran out of fuel and the national average price climbed to $3.04 a gallon.  

The US capital almost ran out of gasoline on Friday despite the country’s largest fuel pipeline reopening and ramping up deliveries in the wake of the cyberattack that shut down the system for six days. 

DarkSide, the Russian-based group responsible for crippling the pipeline, has now claimed they’ve shut down amid pressure from the US government and probing from law enforcement. 

The cyber gang sent a message to partners overnight, according to cyber experts, claiming they had lost access to servers used for its web blog and to a cryptocurrency account it uses to pay affiliates in the wake of the Colonial attack. 

‘Servers were seized, money of advertisers and founders was transferred to an unknown account,’ the message read.  

President Biden on Thursday vowed the US would take measures to disrupt the ability of cyber criminal groups. It is not clear if the US government played any role in the disruption of DarkSide’s activity. 

It also wasn’t clear if DarkSide’s disruption was legitimate, given cybersecurity experts believe it might just be a ploy to disappear from public view after receiving the $5 million ransom. They say it’s possible the group may just reform under a different name, which is common in cyber criminal gangs.  

The Colonial Pipeline shutdown has proven to be the most disruptive cyberattack on record as Washington officials assured motorists that supplies would return to normal soon.

Even so, widespread panic buying is still ongoing, which has left filling stations across the Southeast out of gas – even in areas far from the pipeline.  

Nearly 90 percent of Washington DC’s gas stations had run out of fuel by Friday despite Colonial Pipeline ramping up deliveries in the wake of the cyberattack that shut down its system for six days

On Friday 88% of gas stations were out of fuel in Washington DC, 45% were out in Virginia and 39% of Maryland stations were dry. About 65% of stations were without gas in North Carolina, and nearly half were tapped out in Georgia and South Carolina 

The average national gasoline price climbed to almost $3.04 on Friday, which the most expensive since October 2014, according to the American Automobile Association. 

On Friday gas station outages in Washington, DC, climbed to 87 percent, up from 79 percent the day before, tracking firm GasBuddy said. 

President Joe Biden assured motorists supplies should start returning to normal by this weekend.

‘Most of these states/areas with outages have continued to see panicked buying, which is likely a contributing factor to the slow-ish recovery thus far,’ said GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan. 

‘It will take a few weeks.’

Colonial Pipeline announced late Thursday it had restarted its entire pipeline system linking refineries on the Gulf Coast to markets along the eastern seaboard.

Colonial warned it would take ‘several days’ to return to normal and some areas may experience ‘intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period’. 

Some states experienced modest improvements by Friday but still had a lot of gasoline outages. 

About 70 percent of gas stations in North Carolina were without fuel, with outages in around 50 percent of stations in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

The average national gasoline price climbed to almost $3.04 on Friday, which the most expensive since October 2014, according to the American Automobile Association

Colonial Pipeline announced late Thursday it had restarted its entire pipeline system linking refineries on the Gulf Coast to markets along the eastern seaboard

‘Our current expectation based on the conversations between the company and experts at the Department of Energy is that the vast majority of markets and affected regions are receiving fuel at gas stations for consumers, and will continue to receive more fuel throughout the weekend and into early next week,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. 

‘Hence, getting us closer to return us back to normal.’  

In Washington, DC, Dennis Li was stuck on Friday at a Sunoco gas station that was out of fuel. 

He had tried to find gas at four stations during the day but had no luck.

‘I’m running on empty to the point where I don’t want to drive anymore,’ said Li, who is from Annapolis, Maryland. 

‘I canceled my plans for today and this weekend because I didn’t realize shortages were so severe.’ 

A gas station owner in Virginia said panic buying is the problem.

‘It’s like a frenzy,’ Barry Rieger, who owns a gas station in Burke, Virginia, told WJLA-TV. 

Many authorities are warning of the dangers of hoarding gas. 

In Washington, DC, Dennis Li was stuck on Friday at a Sunoco gas station that was out of fuel. He had tried to find gas at four stations during the day but had no luck

On Friday gas station outages in Washington, DC (above), climbed to 87 percent, up from 79 percent the day before, tracking firm GasBuddy said

In South Carolina, a woman was severely burned after flipping a car that a deputy tried to pull over for a suspected stolen license plate Thursday night. The fire touched off multiple explosions due to fuel ‘that she was hoarding in the trunk of the vehicle,’ a Pickens County sheriff’s statement said.

In Florida, a 2004 Hummer was destroyed by fire on Wednesday shortly after the driver had filled up four 5-gallon gas containers in Homosassa. Firefighters doused the blaze and found the melted gas containers.  

The cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them hit the pipeline on May 7. 

DarkSide, the Russian-based hackers responsible for the attack, didn’t take control of the pipeline’s operations but Colonial shut it down to prevent the malware from impacting its industrial control systems. 

The hacking group has since said it had hacked four other companies including a Toshiba subsidiary in Germany.

Colonial Pipeline has not determined how the initial breach occurred. 

The privately held company has focused on cleaning its networks, restoring data and reopening the pipeline.

They have also not disclosed how much money the hackers were seeking or whether it paid but sources confirmed it paid nearly $5 million to hackers.

A gas-hoarding South Carolina woman has suffered burns to her body after her car crashed and burst into flames while she was fleeing from police. Her burning vehicle is pictured 

On Thursday, gas hoarding caused another vehicle to go up in flames in Florida.

A silver Hummer, which was parked by a gas station in Citrus County, had four 5-gallon fuel cans in the back when it exploded

The White House distanced itself from the ransom decision, referring all questions on the subject to Colonial, and President Biden refused to comment on Thursday when asked about the ransom payment.

The FBI consistently discourages companies and individuals from meeting criminal ransom demands, saying that it encourages further attacks. 

Republicans in Congress are expressing fury at Colonial for reportedly meeting the extortion demands of the Russia-linked hacking syndicate DarkSide.

‘The U.S. Government and U.S. companies should not pay ransoms to terrorists, as this only emboldens terrorist organizations and makes Americans the target of future attacks,’ Rep. Bruce Westerman, an Arkansas Republican, said in a statement.

‘Terrorist organizations should be met with the full force of the U.S. Government and the message should be unequivocally understood: America does not bow to terrorists,’ he added.

DarkSide, which emerged last summer and targets a wide range of US companies for extortion, has not been officially designated a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department.

‘The Colonial Pipeline is back online, but while we fill our cars with gas, the hackers lined their pockets with ransom money,’ tweeted Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a freshman Republican from North Carolina, the state hardest-hit in the fuel crisis.

‘American infrastructure should not be some stagecoach to be held up at gunpoint by foreign hackers. We need answers. This can never happen again,’ he added. 

Motorists wait in line to refuel at a Circle K gas station in Fayetteville, North Carolina following the Colonial Pipeline outage

Colonial warned it would take ‘several days’ to return to normal and some areas may experience ‘intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period’

Vehicles wait in lines at the Costco in Raleigh, North Carolina. As the crisis entered its seventh day, fuel headaches continued for motorists in the South even after the Colonial Pipeline restarted operations

A tanker delivers gas to a gas station in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday. Drivers from DC to Florida are feeling the after-effects of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, waiting in long lines, and driving around in search of a station with gas

DarkSide: The Russian hacking outfit behind the Colonial Pipeline attack is given free rein by the Kremlin to target Western countries 

The cyberextortion attack that forced the shutdown of America’s largest fuel pipeline was carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide that is believed to based out of Russia where they are given free rein to target Western countries.

DarkSide is made up of veteran cybercriminals but insists it is not political. Like many others, however, DarkSide seems to spare Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian-speaking companies, which does suggest a link to Russia.

Ransomware rackets are now dominated by Russian-speaking cybercriminals who are shielded – and sometimes employed – by Russian intelligence agencies, according to US officials.

Cyber experts say Russia gives free rein to hackers who target the US and European countries.

DarkSide has already boasted that it has been paid millions of dollars in ransom from 80 companies across the US and Europe.

DarkSide finds vulnerabilities in a network, gains access to administrator accounts and then harvests data from the victim’s server and encrypts it. The software leaves a ransom note text file with demands (pictured above)

‘Whether they work for the state or not is increasingly irrelevant, given Russia’s obvious policy of harboring and tolerating cybercrime,’ Dmitri Alperovitch, a former CTO of CrowdStrike, told NBC of DarkSide’s recent hacking.

The FBI on Monday confirmed that DarkSide was responsible for the attack on Colonial Pipeline that has experts fearing widespread gas shortages and significant price hikes. The federal agency did not mention DarkSide’s ties to Russia.

The US last month slapped sanctions on Russia for malign activities including state-backed hacking. The Treasury Department said Russian intelligence has enabled ransomware attacks by cultivating and co-opting criminal hackers and giving them safe harbor.

DarkSide, which cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity, said in a statement posted on the dark web that their only goal was to ‘make money’ and not create problems for society.

DarkSide is believed to be based out of Russia and made up of veteran cybercriminals. In a statement (above) following the Colonial attack, the group denied being political and said their only goal was to ‘make money’

‘We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics,’ the statement read. ‘Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.’

‘From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.’

Despite only emerging in August last year, DarkSide appears to be very organized, experts say.

Those who have tracked DarkSide said it appears to be composed of veteran cybercriminals who are focused on squeezing out as much money as they can from their targets.

‘They’re very new but they’re very organized,’ Lior Div, the chief executive of Boston-based security firm Cybereason, said. ‘It looks like someone who’s been there, done that.’

DarkSide is one of a number of increasingly professionalized groups of digital extortionists, with a mailing list, a press center and a victim hotline to help facilitate ransom payments.

Experts say DarkSide was likely composed of ransomware veterans and that it came out of nowhere in the middle of last year and immediately unleashed a digital crimewave.

DarkSide’s site on the dark web hints at their hackers’ past crimes with claims they previously made millions from extortion and that just because their software was new ‘that does not mean that we have no experience and we came from nowhere’.

The site also features a Hall of Shame-style gallery of leaked data from victims who haven’t paid up. It advertises stolen documents from more than 80 companies across the US and Europe.

One of the more recent victims featured on its list was Georgia-based rugmaker Dixie Group Inc, which publicly disclosed a digital shakedown attempt affecting ‘portions of its information technology systems’ last month.

DarkSide has previously targeted Enterprise rental cars, Canadian real estate firm Brookfield Residential and an Office Depot subsidiary called CompuCom.

The group has a supposed code of conduct intended to spin the group as reliable, if ruthless, business partners.

They have publicly stated that they prefer not to attack hospitals, schools, non-profits, and governments. They instead go after big organizations that can afford to pay large ransoms and claims to donates a portion of its take to charity.

The group has posted receipts from donations it claims it has made to US charities in the wake of ransom attacks.

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