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Ransomware attacks are becoming more common – how do we stop them?

New Scientist Default Image

The Colonial Pipeline Houston Station, part of the oil pipeline that was shut down by a ransomware attack

FRANCOIS PICARD/AFP via Getty Images

On 7 May, hackers forced a major oil pipeline in the US to shut and prompted US president Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency. Within hours of the hack, which started the day earlier, Colonial Pipeline Company paid a ransom of 75 bitcoin – worth $4.4 million at the time – to recover the data being held hostage.

According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the hackers behind it are DarkSide, a criminal group that …