Cyber Attack Shuts Down Major US Fuel Pipeline

Over the weekend of the 9th of May a ransomware cyber attack shut the Colonial Pipeline in the Eastern United States. According to BBC News the pipeline carries 45% of the fuel for the Eastern United States, including petrol, diesel and jet fuel. The ransomware attack was carried out by a group called DarkSide.

The attack targeted the company Colonial Pipeline’s networks and the hackers stole more than 100 gigabytes of data, although it seems they were unable to share the data wider after the cloud computer system they used to instigate the attack was taken offline over the weekend, reports Reuters. 

The attack is reported to be one of the most disruptive ransomware attacks in history, stopping over 2.5 million barrels of oil a day from moving through the 8,500km long pipeline. It is also being referred to as the most disruptive cyber attack on US critical infrastructure to date by the Guardian. 

US fuel prices rose 3% to their highest level since 2018 on the news of the attack, settling at US$2.217 a gallon according to the BBC. 

The Biden administration is working tirelessly to ensure fuel supply is restored and the risks of the attack are mitigated. This includes diverting fuel to be transported by road, which required emergency powers to be implemented. 

The attack showcases the changing threat environment that both companies and countries face as threats move to more digital environments. Are cyber attacks with physical implications like this destined to become the new norm?

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