The Colonial Pipeline company, owner of the pipeline that suffered a cyberattack that forced the shutdown of the largest pipeline network in the United States, paid a ransom of $5 million to the perpetrators.

It was carried out in non-traceable cryptocurrencies hours after the attack last Friday, according to a report revealed to the press by the company itself.

There is a heated debate as to whether, in the event of an attack, companies should pay to regain control of their systems. Critics say paying ransoms encourages attacks.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that companies victimized by cyberattacks should not pay ransoms.

According to ‘Bloomberg’, the White House was aware of the payment of the ransom to the ‘hackers’. Its chief cybersecurity officer, Anne Neuberger, declined to say whether or not companies should pay – the FBI encourages them not to.

After receiving payment, the hackers gave Colonial Pipeline a decryption tool to restore its affected computer networks.

However, the company used its own backups to help recover its systems, as the tool was slow, Bloomberg News reported.

The service began to recover its operations on Wednesday night and the company assured that the fuel flow would be fully restored by Thursday afternoon.

By then, much of the southeastern United States had run dry of gasoline, between the cut of the oil pipeline and the buying panic of the citizens, who threw themselves to fill tanks and cans of gasoline.

This Thursday morning there was not a drop of fuel at more than 17,000 gas stations in the region and the price had soared above three dollars per gallon (3.7 liters), a level unknown since 2014.

The shutdown prompted gasoline shortages and emergency declarations from Virginia to Florida, forced two refineries to halt production and caused airlines to reorganize some refueling operations.

The FBI indicted an obscure criminal gang called DarkSide for the cyberattack. The group has not claimed responsibility directly, but on Wednesday said it accessed the systems of three other companies.

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