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Cyberattack on US Oil Pipeline
News Bytes 05/11/2021 30 Comments

Over the weekend, criminals forced the shutdown of a U.S. oil pipeline. The closure was an attempt to force money from the Colonial Pipeline organization. The Biden administration says an “all-hands-on-deck” effort is underway to restore operations and avoid disruptions in the nation’s fuel supply.

Cyberextortion (forcing money via an internet scheme) attempts in the United States are a a problem. In the past year, attacks have forced delays in cancer treatment at hospitals, interrupted schooling, and paralyzed police forces and city governments.

In a ransomware attack, hackers lock up computer systems by encrypting data. Then they demand money to release the information.

David Kennedy, founder of TrustedSec, says that once officials discover a ransomware attack, companies can do little but completely rebuild their systems—or pay the ransom.

Average ransoms paid in the United States jumped nearly threefold to more than $310,000 last year. The average downtime for victims of ransomware attacks is 21 days.

The attacked pipeline, operated by Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the U.S. Northeast. It delivers roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast. The recent ransomware attack hit computers controlling pipeline functions.

A Russia-based criminal gang known as DarkSide is likely responsible. Ransomware gangs like DarkSide have cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in the past three years. But the group promotes a Robin Hood image—one of stealing from corporations and giving a cut away.

DarkSide claims that it does not attack medical, educational, or government targets—only large corporations. The group also boasts that it donates a portion of its take to charity. But the Bible’s injunction is clear: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)

Experts say U.S. gasoline prices probably won’t be affected if the pipeline is back to normal in a few days. But on Monday, prices were up a few cents per gallon as long lines formed at the pumps. Those experts also say the incident is the worst cyberattack to date on critical U.S. infrastructure (basic facilities). They believe the attack should be a wake-up call to companies about their weaknesses.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says ransomware attacks are “what businesses now have to worry about” and that she will work “very vigorously” with the Homeland Security Department to address the problem.

“Unfortunately, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent,” she says. “We are working closely with the company, state, and local officials to make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible.”

Security experts say the attack should be a warning for operators of critical infrastructure—including electrical and water utilities and energy and transportation companies: Not investing in updating their security puts them at risk of catastrophe.

Colonial transports gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and home heating oil from refineries on the Gulf Coast through pipelines running from Texas to New Jersey. Its pipeline system spans more than 5,500 miles, transporting more than 100 million gallons each day.

Researcher Debnil Chowdhury says that if the current oil outage stretches to one to three weeks, gas prices could begin to rise. Shortages would become pronounced.

“I wouldn’t be surprised, if this ends up being an outage of that magnitude, if we see 15- to 20-cent rise in gas prices over next week or two,” he says.

“Ransomware is absolutely out of control and one of the biggest threats we face as a nation,” Kennedy says. Then he adds, “Most companies are grossly underprepared to face these threats.”

(Traffic passes oil storage tanks owned by the Colonial Pipeline Company in Linden, New Jersey. AP/Mark Lennihan)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

Why do people do this? I mean, come on guys. Just live an honest upright life. Why go that low? I know my area is a pretty big oil production place. I live in Texas...

2nd Comment

Really, they think that giving money to charity justifies them, I mean come on.

Random Fun Fact/ 3rd comment

More people are killed by hippopotamuses then by lions, elephants and water buffalos combined.

this is mylee

that is so awful that they were crimanals and that they said they were giving part of it to chairity ! That is just Horrid ....

Fourth Comment

I live on the West Coast, and gas prices are already super high here, but hopefully this won't affect them...
Belwyn, that's quite interesting.

Oops, I meant fifth comment

Oops, I meant fifth comment

Coding ……….,,….,…..

I can code which means I AM A FULL FLEDGED HACKER!!!! BWAHAH haha ha. Ha. 10010

(::: target spotted::::)

Hacking information-000000000

Just kidding I can only code not hack ROFL XD

A town not far from me is out

A town not far from me is out of gas.

And this has something to do

And this has something to do with Russia...

The attack

The attack

yeah we got hit with this BAD

yeah we got hit with this BAD my mom had to rush to the gas station to get gas this morning

And my dad went to fill up

And my dad went to fill up both our vehicles today. The stores were crazy.

hahaha, that's terrible and

hahaha, that's terrible and hilarious. Robin Hood 3.0. XD

@Franz R

What language you write in? C#? JavaScript?

15th comment

Whoa, this is nuts, hopefully it won't get as bad as in the seventies when there literally wasn't any gas. XD Bu Seriously why would you do that? And then give all your money to charity? I mean like that's gonna redeem you, why don't you just not steal, and then you won't have to redeem your self! I bet thought they probably saved some of it for themselves

this is mylee

they didnt give money to charity they claimed they did. (lied)

@ Hesperus D

I can code arduino and a little python and my dad knows a little JavaScript

More clearly...

Russia has claimed the pipeline.

CODE!!!!!!

I am working on python, micro python, and C#

@coders

Yeah I do a good amount of python, but i dont like it that much, I made a couple games with help from a book.

plus i used to do scratch but

plus i used to do scratch but that doesnt really count. Any y'all know what that is?

@Micah D

Kinda. I was never very good at coding, so I don't really do it.

This is London

That’s terrible I don’t think Russia has anything to do with this they just needed someone to blame

@ Hesperus

Yeah... I really don't like it and I can't do it without a book. If you want to get started, try scratch it is really simple block coding but it is good to start in.

This is London

I have done scratch before . Any one else use to do lego league I did it for 2 years and it was so much fun

I did scratch to program a

I did scratch to program a Finch robot...xD

About the article.

They know they can get away with this, that's why they're doing it.

You know, there should be

You know, there should be hackers that work for the government that are smarter then the bad hackers. That way when something like this happens the government hackers can hack into the codes these criminals put up. Made one of us will do that someday.

Joe

The "all hands on deck" by the Biden administration is a fad. aren't they the ones that shut down oil drilling

@Micah D

Eh. Thanks for the suggestion, but honestly I think C# has more possibilities. Especially since you can use it with the Unity engine. Besides, I don't think I was meant to be a coder. Thanks tho.

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