Largest US pipeline operations halted following ransomware attack

Operations at the Colonial Pipeline have been brought to a standstill following a ransomware cyberattack that affected some of its IT systems.

 The pipeline – which transports 100 million gallons of fuel daily to customers from New York to Texas – is the largest pipeline for moving gas and diesel products in the US at 2.7 million miles.

Colonial noted it had taken certain systems offline to contain the threat that had stopped all pipeline operations and affected some of its IT systems. It remarked it has contacted law enforcement and was seeking to restore normal operations as soon as possible.

The company said it is currently unclear who was responsible for the digital intrusion or how long the operations would be halted.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) were the institution that named ransomware as the cause of the incident, stating the hack ‘underscored the threat ransomware poses to organisations regardless of size or sector’.

The US government department said this wasn’t the first time Colonial had suffered a ransomware attack, after it revealed the company had experienced a similar ransomware attack in February 2020 that led to the firm closing operations for two days.

This recent attack continues a worrying trend for western countries of suffering potentially debilitating cyberattacks. Last week, Belnet – the company that provides internet services for Belgium’s parliament, government departments, universities and scientific institutions – suffered a significant cyberattack. The firm said it was too early to find out who was behind the hack.

In December 2020, the US itself suffered a severe cyberattack when software company SolarWinds was hacked, with many US government agencies affected by the attack. SolarWinds has over 300,000 customers globally.

President Biden recently announced a 100-day plan focused on rapidly strengthening US power grid cybersecurity. The plan will be headed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and will be supported by CISA.

Earlier this year, the DHS and the Department of Energy revealed an initiative aimed at coordinating oil and gas executives more closely on pipeline cybersecurity.

The head of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming previously claimed the UK and its allies face a ‘moment of reckoning’ where the global direction of cybersecurity may not be ‘shaped and controlled by the west’ in the face of

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