A cyberattack that crippled fuel supplies on the East Coast of the US and sent gas prices soaring could have been an inside job conducted by American spooks, rather than foreign hackers, a prominent Russian IT expert has claimed.
After a massive systems failure caused the Colonial Pipeline to shut down, Natalya Kaspersky, the founder and former CEO of security software firm Kaspersky Lab, as well as one of Russia’s wealthiest women, made the explosive suggestions in an interview with RIA Novosti on Friday. She alleges that the US’ top foreign intelligence agency, the CIA, has a crack team of digital warriors who are able to masquerade as overseas hacking groups.
According to her, the group, known as UMBRAGE, is adept at hiding its online footprints. The existence of the team first came to light in a series of documents published by WikiLeaks in 2017 and subsequently picked up by American media. At the time, USA Today said that the shadowy operatives “may have been cataloguing hacking methods from outside hackers, including in Russia, that would have allowed the agency to mask their identity by employing the method during espionage.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that the devastating blow to America’s infrastructure had been dealt from abroad. “We do not believe the Russian government was involved in this attack, but we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia, that’s where it came from,” he said.
However, Kaspersky pointed to the list “of the countries under whose hacker groups this UMBRAGE is disguised – Russia, North Korea, China, Iran.” She claimed that “therefore, it cannot be said with certainty that the attack was carried out by a hacker group from Russia, and that it was not a provocation made themselves from there, or from some other country,” she said.
The day before, the operators of the Colonial Pipeline said that service had resumed, and that “we can now report that we have restarted our entire pipeline system and that product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve.” However, they added, it could take several days before gas supply issues were fully resolved.