Colonial Pipeline: Cyber Attack and Fuel Shortages

Colonial Pipeline: Cyber Attack and Fuel Shortages

There is no doubt that hackers have become more bold and creative in their mischievous ways. Quite recently, one well-organized cyberattack led to a significant disruption of American infrastructure. The primary victim was the Colonial Pipeline. The five-thousand-mile pipeline system transports up to 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast of the United States. It delivers gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil and serves U.S. military facilities.

According to a Federal Emergency Management Agency report, the attack began at 7 p.m. on Friday, and it involved ransomware and ended up halting all pipeline operations.

As a result, the shutdown leads to gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally. An increase of three more cents would make the national average the most expensive since November 2014, when average gas prices were USD2.99 and higher.

According to AAA, the nation’s top 10 most significant weekly increases were in Michigan up 15 cents, Kentucky  12 cents, Florida  10 cents, Delaware 10 cents, Indiana  10 cents, West Virginia  9 cents, Utah  9 cents, Texas  9 cents, New Jersey  8 cents and Pennsylvania  7 cents.

The ten least expensive markets were Mississippi  USD 2.61, Alabama  USD2.68, Oklahoma  USD 2.70, Louisiana  USD 2.64, Texas  USD 2.66, South Carolina  USD 2.67, Missouri  USD 2.71, Tennessee  USD 2.71, Arkansas  USD 2.72, and North Carolina  USD2.73.

When will the pipeline be operational again?

Thanks to the criminal menagerie, all the vulnerabilities of the Colonel Pipeline system resurfaced. The cyberattack created some logistical challenges in the Southeast, in fact, it may create price increases modestly in the Southeast, but there is not an impending spike coming nationally.

Colonial did not outline the nature of the attack. However, we can say that this was not necessarily a state-backed attack. You could even say that it was quite a  pedestrian cybercriminal hack. The federal government is researching the implications of this incident. In fact, the FBI  is working with Colonial Pipeline on the ransomware attack. Preliminary results of the investigation at this point are taken directly from a Hollywood movie. As the investigation report suggests, the attack was the handiwork of the DarkSide criminal organization from Eastern Europe. Some of the experts were quick to point their fingers at Russia. However, an investigation from an independent organization showed that poor security practices  made it quite easy for hackers to infiltrate the company’s network.