Considerate Clan of Cyber Criminals Cause Commodity Crisis

Ransomware forces shut down of major US oil pipeline

Hello Idiots!

Nope, it’s not Sunday.

So why is Contemporary Idiot in your inbox on a casual Thursday morning?

Because we’re (I’m) changing things up a little.

Instead of 5 stories every Sunday, I’ll be narrowing down the topic range a bit and sending out the newsletter periodically (more real-time).

It should make for higher quality content. Also, it’ll be more current.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I’ll be flooding the inbox by any means. I’m guessing 1-3 emails per week about what’s going on.

Today’s newsletter is a good example of the reason behind the change. By now, I’m sure you all already know about the cyber hack on Colonial Pipeline. Hopefully, you’ll learn something you didn’t know yet below 😉

Let’s get to it.


Considerate Clan of Cyber Criminals Cause Commodity Crisis

The Colonial Pipeline runs from Houston, TX to Linden, NJ. It carries ~45% of the fuel consumed on the US East Coast.

Last weekend it had to be shut down due to a ransomware attack.

Ransomeware is a deviant little piece of software that seizes your data and…holds it ransom.

The hacker gang behind the attached was DarkSide, and their business model is RaaS.

Ransomware-as-a-service: develop, market, and sell products like any other software company.

Their product just happens to be used in high-profile cybercrimes.

They’re like a black-market arms dealer, except instead of the black market it’s the “dark web” and instead of arms, it’s malware.

BUT they have morals! They’re said to have a “code of conduct” on their website that lists which kind of targets are off-limits.

Protected organizations include hospitals, schools, universities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, entities based in former Soviet countries (of course).

Fair game: any for-profit company in an English-speaking country.

They also won’t sell to just any cybercriminals. They only sell to the very best.

To prove your worth as a customer to DarkSide, you have to submit a resume that confirms you are, in fact, a proper criminal.

They’re also altruistic! They’ve pledged to donate a portion of their (extortion) profits to charity. Though many charities have turned down their generous contributions.

“No matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped change someone’s life. Today we sended the first donations.” - DarkSide

According to cybersecurity company Cybereason, DarkSide also has excellent customer service complete with a help desk and phone line for victims to call in to (presumably to ask “WHAT THE F***!?”).

They’ve already published confidential data on more than 40 victims to their “DarkSide Leaks” website.

So how profitable is the RaaS racket? Annual revenues = $15B (with a “B”)!


After last weekend’s attack on Colonial Pipeline, they wanted to stress that they are in this for the money, and ONLY the money. Colonial Pipeline coughed up $5M in ransom money, by the way.

On Monday, they issued a statement apologizing (sort of) for any inconvenience that their incredibly lucrative business operations created for society:

“We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for our motives. Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society. From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.” - DarkSide

How can you be mad at that? What a stand-up move.

It’s not like they had to issue that statement. Shows a lot of class, going out of their way to clear the air like that.

You should always respect someone who can acknowledge their mistakes and own up to them.

Colonial Pipeline operations are back online as of 5 pm on Wednesday, but it’ll likely be a couple of weeks until things are back to normal.

The price of a gallon is now up to $3, a level we haven’t seen since 2014. This was expected for 2021, just not as quickly as May (thanks hackers!).

It’s no reason to panic though. Definitely DON’T be this person:

Thanks for reading! 

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