The operator of a major pipeline system of the United States that transports fuel across the East Coast said on Saturday that a ransomware attack hit it and stopped all pipeline operations to handle the risk. Furthermore, the recent attack is not likely to affect gasoline prices and supply unless it leads to the continuous closure of the pipeline for a long time.
Colonial Pipeline didn’t say who was behind the activity and what the demand was. Criminal hackers usually carried the ransomware attacks by scrambling information, paralyzing victim networks, and usually demand a big payment to decrypt it. Whereas the recent attack on the company, which says it delivers approximately forty-five percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, highlights gain the susceptibilities of crucial infrastructure to damaging cyberattacks that threaten to hinder operations.
In addition, the recent attack presents an additional challenge for the administration still facing its response to previous major hack attacks from some months before, including a huge breach of government businesses and agencies for which the United States sanctioned Russia in April 2021. Colonial Pipeline said in this case that the ransomware Friday attack affected some of its IT systems, due to which the firm moved proactively to take some specific systems offline and stopped the operations of the pipeline.
The Company is Trying to Restore the Pipeline Operations
In a statement, the company announced that they were taking essential steps to understand and resolve the current issue and trying to return to normal operations. Whereas Georgia-based company, the Alpharetta transports diesel, gasoline, home heating oil, and jet fuel from refineries located on the Gulf Coast through pipelines from Texas to New Jersey.
Its pipeline system ranges over fifty-five hundred miles, transporting over a hundred million gallons per day. Furthermore, the White House said that officials briefed Joe Biden, the President of the United States, on Saturday morning, and the central government was working with the firm to assess the consequences of the ransomware attack, avoid disruptions to the supply and restore operations.
The Federal Government Working with the firm to assess the Consequences of the Attack
The U.S. administration plans for several scenarios and works with local and state officials on measures to mitigate any possible supply issues. Additionally, the private cybersecurity company FireEye said that it hired to manage the recent attack response investigation. Andy Lipow, the oil analyst, said the impact of a Ransomware attack on fuel supplies and prices increase on how long the pipeline is down.
An outage of a day or two would be negligible, he said, but an outage of 5 or 6 days may cause price climbs and shortages., specifically in an area widening from central Alabama to the Washington, D.C., region. Lipow said the main concern about a long-lasting delay would be the supply of jet fuel required to keep operations of major airports, like those in Charlotte, Atlanta, and North Carolina.
Robert Lee, the CEO of Dragos, a leading expert in industrial control systems, said systems such as those straightly manage the operation of pipelines that gradually associated with computer networks in the past ten years. However, the critical infrastructure firms in the electricity and energy industries also tend to invest more in cybersecurity than other sectors.