Russia captures hacker likely responsible for Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

This is the first US investigation Russia has cooperated on in eight years.

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Karissa Bell
January 15th, 2022
WOODBINE, MD - MAY 13: In an aerial view, fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station on May 13, 2021 in Woodbine, Maryland. The Colonial Pipeline has returned to operations following a cyberattack that disrupted gas supply for the eastern U.S. for days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer via Getty Images

The hacker behind the ransomware attack that took down the Colonial Pipeline last year has been apprehended by Russian authorities, according to US officials.

Russia’s FSB intelligence agency said Friday that 14 people associated with the REvil ransomware group had been arrested, according to The Wall Street Journal. The group has taken responsibility for numerous cyberattacks in the US. Officials in the US believe the hacker behind the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline last spring was among those arrested, according to an unnamed administration official who spoke to CNN.

Last year’s cyberattack, which was attributed to a ransomware gang, caused a significant disruption to the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half of the fuel for the entire east coast of the US. The temporary shutdown of the pipeline incited mass panic buying at gas stations in and around the east coast of the US, which resulted in shortages in at least 11 states.

As CNN notes, the arrest comes after a week of diplomatic talks between the United States and Russia regarding Russia’s buildup of troops near the border with Ukraine. The Biden official told the network that it believes the arrest was “not related” to the situation. But some analysts have suggested otherwise, noting that this is the first first US investigation Russia has cooperated on in eight years.

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