Close to Half of US East Coast Fuel Supply Shutdown Due to Ransomware Cyberattack

Colonial system affected by the cyberattack. Colonial is the largest refined products pipeline in the U.S., transporting more than 100 million gallons, or 2.5 million barrels, per day. Its pipeline spans more the 5,500 miles throughout the Southern and Eastern U.S. (Map: Colonial Pipeline)

Colonial Pipeline, which accounts for close to half of the United States East Coast’s fuel, has shut down its operations due to a cyberattack. The incident, believed to be the largest successful cyberattack on oil infrastructure in the U.S., was disclosed over the weekend.

What Colonial Pipeline said: “On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.” The company later confirmed the incident also involves ransomware.

There are no indications of when the operations resume, and experts warn continued shutdown will cause gas prices to surge across the Southeraneastern US. “A one-to-two-day outage is really a minor inconvenience,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. But by day four or five, “we could see a much greater widespread impact through large areas throughout the mid-Atlantic and the southeast.”

Who’s involved: There is no official word on which group is responsible for the attack, but a former U.S. official and other industry sources told Reuters a group dubbed “DarkSide” was among the suspects. It is also reported that the attackers, like many others, seem to spare Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian-speaking companies, suggesting a link to the former Soviet republics.

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