Context For The Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack And What Happens Next

Updated on

The FBI confirmed in a statement today that a cybercriminal group called Darkside was responsible for the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline.

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The Ransomware Attack Against Colonial Pipeline

While more information about the attack continues to come to light, R Street Cybersecurity experts are available for comment and to provide valuable context to the ongoing conversation about cybersecurity, critical infrastructure and how the private sector and U.S. government can respond:

Bryson Bort, Senior Fellow. Watch Bryson on CBSN here.

  • More than 70 state and local government organizations were impacted by ransomware attacks in the last year.
  • Ransomware attacks rose by over 97 percent between 2017 - 2019.
  • Average requested ransom has increased from about $5,000 in 2018 to nearly $200,000 in 2020.
  • Ransomware is the biggest threat facing organizations today, according to former director of the CISA Chris Krebs.
  • Ransomware tactics have changed as well and are focused less on individuals and more on organizations who can afford to pay larger ransoms.
  • In 2019, Baltimore County in Maryland fell victim to a ransomware attack that blocked access to data and services critical to its residents. The ransom was $80,000. Baltimore, upon advice from federal officials, did not pay the ransom and ultimately spent more than $18 million in recovery expenses.
  • Source, a new white paper released today: Enhancing State and Local Cybersecurity Responses.
  • Brief bio: Bryson is a senior fellow for Cybersecurity and Emerging Threats at the R Street Institute, an advisor to the Army Cyber Institute, and served as a U.S. Army Officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is also the founder and CEO of SCYTHE, a start-up building a next-generation attack emulation platform, and GRIMM, a boutique cybersecurity consultancy. He also co-founded the ICS Village, a nonprofit advancing awareness of industrial control system security and where he hosts the podcast, Hack the Plan[e]t. Prior to these, Bryson led an elite offensive capabilities development group. He was recognized as a Top 50 Leader in Cyber for 2020 by Business Insider.

About R Street

R Street is a non-profit public policy research organization that supports free markets and limited, effective government. It has headquarters in Washington, D.C. and five regional offices across the country. Learn more at

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