WASHINGTON - After a six-day closure following a computer hack, fuel continued to flow Friday through Colonial Pipeline’s network, which supplies the Southern and Eastern regions of the United States with 45% of their fuel.
Despite the restoration of pipeline operations, many parts of the country continue to see supply problems.
According to the gas-tracking service GasBuddy.com, 88% of gas stations in Washington, D.C., were out of gas Friday. In bordering Virginia, about half were out, while 42% of Maryland's gas stations were dry.
Colonial Pipeline said in a Thursday morning statement that it had "made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service. By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system."
A group called DarkSide, which is believed to operate out of Eastern Europe, is blamed for the hack, which set off gas shortages and panic buying in many states.
Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency to hackers to release the company's data last Friday, according to Bloomberg News and The New York Times.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported DarkSide was ceasing operations but added that it was common for hacker groups to reemerge under a different moniker.
The group's criminal activities may have earned it at least $60 million over a seven-month span, according to WSJ, with at least $46 million coming in the first quarter of this year alone.
When asked by a reporter on Thursday about the ransom payment, U.S. President Joe Biden said he had no comment.
Biden also said that according to an FBI report, neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor the Russian government was involved in the malware attack on Colonial Pipeline.
He said the U.S. needs to modernize and secure key sectors to effectively compete with China this century.
Brandon Wales, acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told reporters Thursday that the likelihood of a catastrophic cybersecurity incident "is increasing almost every day."
"We're seeing the prelude to that today," he said.
Concerning ransomware hacks like the one that crippled the pipeline, Wales said, "This is a scourge that is not going to be easily eradicated."
During his comments Thursday, Biden urged Americans not to panic.
"This is a temporary situation," he said. "Don't get more gas than you need in the next few days."
The president also warned gas station operators not to engage in price gouging.