The American oil company Colonial has ‘started to restart’ a pipeline after a cyber attack. Hackers had encrypted the system’s software with ransomware last Friday and demanded ransom.
It is the longest oil pipeline in the United States, running from the Gulf Coast in the south to The New York area. A daily amount of oil passes through it equal to 2.5 million barrels, almost half of all fuel off the American East Coast.
As a result of the shutdown of supply, there were pump shortages in the pipeline area: in states such as Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, half of the pumping stations ran out of fuel. In other places long queues arose, partly because motorists started hoarding fuel.
Colonial’s hack was the most disruptive cyber attack ever on American energy infrastructure. Although the hackers failed to take over the pipeline, as a precaution, the entire system was taken offline while searching for a solution.
According to the FBI, the hacker group DarkSide is behind the cyber attack, a criminal organization from Eastern Europe. US president Biden added that the Russian authorities often turn a blind eye to such criminals. It is not known how much ransom the perpetrators demanded. Colonial says the hackers ‘ demands have not been met.
The White House calls the attack a warning that shows how vulnerable essential systems in the US can be. According to Transport secretary Buttigieg, this proves the importance of the billion-dollar investment in infrastructure proposed by president Biden: “this is not a bonus, not a luxury, not a free choice. It must be at the heart of how we secure necessary infrastructure.”
Biden’s talking to the press today about the case. As a result of this hack and problems at Microsoft, he announced yesterday that there will be a system like the one already in place for aviation safety, so that a major hack will be investigated as well as a plane crash. He also introduced stricter security requirements for government software.
Weeks to come
In order to alleviate the initial tightness at pumping stations, several states have approved additional transport of fuel by road. Some local branches of the Colonial Pipeline have also been opened manually.
It will be a few more days before the pipeline delivers as much oil as before. All deficits should be cleared in a week or two.