The Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount surrounding the recent cyber attack that halted gas transportation all along the east coast. Blount confirmed many reports surrounding the hack, including the payment of the ransom.
Blount reported that the company paid the ransom for DarkSide’s encryption tool in order to restore their systems. Meanwhile, it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s policy to not pay ransoms in order to discourage more ransomware attacks.
But, Blount claimed the FBI never discouraged him personally from paying the ransom and they were in contact very early on. “We reached out within hours,” he said. “It was our understanding that the decision was solely ours to make about whether to pay the ransom.”
Ranking Member Rob Portman asked about their use of multi-factor identification. Unfortunately, it was the virtual private network the company used that had only a single-factor. “It was a complicated password,” Blount said ” “It wasn’t just Colonial123.”
You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.
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U.S. House Votes to Permanently Freeze $6 Billion Iranian Funds Amid Hostage Exchange Controversy
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to permanently freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds that were initially slated for release by the Biden administration as part of a hostage exchange with Tehran earlier this year. The measure passed in a 307-119 vote, with the majority of Republicans supporting it, according to The Hill. Notably, Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie was the sole Republican dissenting voice, aligning with 118 Democrats.
The frozen funds, originally held in South Korea, were part of a deal where Seoul committed to paying Iran for oil before the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2019. Subsequently, these funds were transferred to Qatar as part of the exchange. However, in the aftermath of an Oct. 7 Hamas raid on Israel, where more than 200 hostages were seized and around 1,200 civilians were killed, both Qatar and the U.S. agreed to refreeze the funds.
The decision to permanently freeze the funds reflects the growing controversy surrounding the hostage exchange and the broader implications of releasing substantial financial resources to Iran. Tehran’s support for Hamas and its proxies’ heightened hostilities in the Middle East have contributed to the contentious nature of this issue.
As the legislation progresses, it further underscores the complex dynamics in the region and the United States’ response to Iran’s involvement in activities that destabilize the Middle East. The vote outcome signals a bipartisan stance on this matter, with implications for U.S.-Iran relations and the ongoing challenges of navigating geopolitical complexities.
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