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What You Should Know About the Ransomware Cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline

Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

The U.S. East Coast has been hit hard after a cyberattack brought the automated Colonial Pipeline system in Texas to a halt.

As explained by Fox News, the 5,500-mile pipeline system that transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil, or 45% of the fuel consumed in the region, was attacked on May 7 by the Russian ransomware group Darkside.

Colonial Pipeline’s system originates in Houston, Texas. The attack on its automated infrastructure forced the company to shut down the flow as a precautionary measure, leaving the region in panic due to lack of supply.

The day after the attack, Colonial announced that it was working to restore supply as soon as possible without confirming when normal pipeline functions would resume.

Fuel shortages began to occur at gas stations amid panic buying as the pipeline shutdown entered its fourth day North Carolina, Florida and Alabama reported shortages. As a result, average fuel prices rose to their highest level since 2014, nearly reaching $3 per gallon.

While experts warn drivers not to rush to fill up, government officials are taking steps to protect Americans from rising gas prices and ensure that fuel can be shipped in other ways, USA Today said.

“You’re going to see some outages,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy, which tracks prices and shortages.

As of mid-morning Tuesday, Virginia was the worst off state, with 7.5% of stations without fuel, according to GasBuddy. North Carolina was next worst, at 5.4%, while 3.8% of Georgia stations were out of service and 1.7% of South Carolina stations were out of service.

If the Colonial Pipeline situation is not fixed soon, more stations that rely on the Colonial pipeline could start running out of supply.

“It saddens me how we as a society are so selfish that instead of trying to get through this together, some people try to hog all our resources for themselves and once again delineate the disparities between upper versus lower class,” Atlanta resident, Tatiana, told BELatina News.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency on May 9, and officials said the attack on Colonial Pipeline was the largest cyberattack against an oil infrastructure target in U.S. history.

The FBI has said that an online gang known as DarkSide struck the Colonial Pipeline system with a ransomware attack, which takes computerized systems hostage until a payment is made. 

“We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation,” the FBI said.