Colonial Pipeline Photo: CNBC

Cybersecurity: Hackers shut down biggest gasoline pipeline in US

*Colonial Pipeline, which runs the largest gasoline and diesel pipeline system in the United States, reportedly hires a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate and contact law enforcement and other Federal agencies over the incident  

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

With a major disruption to consumers, Colonial Pipeline is currently working to restore operations after a cyberattack prompted the company to take its systems offline, threatening the supply of refined petroleum products to gas stations in major cities on the eastern seaboard in the United States (US).

It was learnt that ransomware was used in the attack, as The Washington Post report cited two unidentified US officials.

It wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by foreign government hackers or a criminal group within the country, the officials stated.

In ransomware attacks, hackers typically encrypt an organisation’s computer files and then, demand a ransom payment to unlock the data.

Colonial, which runs the largest US gasoline and diesel pipeline system, was reported to have hired a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate and contact law enforcement and other Federal agencies.

It’s trying to minimise disruption to customers, the company said in a statement late Friday it didn’t immediately respond to a phone call, or e-mail for further comment Saturday, May 8, 2021.

Likewise, officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter, report said.

Hacking threats to critical infrastructure have been growing, prompting the White House to respond with a plan to try to increase the security of utilities and their suppliers.

The first leg of that effort, announced April 20, will address security holes in the electrical grid, before moving to other sectors, including the country’s gas pipelines and water utilities.

Pipelines are a growing concern because they play a central role in so many parts of the US economy.

The Colonial artery can transport 2.5 million barrels a day of refined petroleum products from the Gulf Coast to Linden, New Jersey.

ConsumerConnect reports the Colonial Pipeline, headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, is regarded as the largest US refined products pipeline system and can carry more than three million barrels of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel between the US Gulf Coast and the New York Harbor area.

The facility also supplies gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to fuel distributors and airports from Houston to New York.

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