Cyberattack takes millions of daily gallons offline
When it hit Colonial Pipeline with a ransomware cyberattack last week, cyber gang DarkSide had a “goal to make money and not creating problems for society,” the group claimed on its website. But considering the pipeline carries 100 million gallons of fuel every day — about 45% of the East Coast’s diesel, petrol, and jet fuel — it caused a big problem when Colonial Pipeline went offline Friday rather than pay a hefty ransom.
“Quickly after learning of the attack, Colonial proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat. These actions temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of our IT systems, which we are actively in the process of restoring,” Colonial Pipeline said in a statement.
The U.S. government issued emergency orders Sunday to allow for overtime and more flexible work hours for truck drivers in 18 states as Colonial Pipeline worked to get back online. With economic activity picking up, gas prices were already on the rise before the cyberattack. Gas prices remained steady Monday, but if Colonial Pipeline remains offline into Tuesday, there could be a price spike. Air travel is also on the rise, with TSA scanning 1.7 million passengers Friday, a high since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colonial Pipeline runs from Houston through the Gulf Coast and up the Eastern Seaboard, all the way to Linden, N.J. Smaller lines were back online Sunday, but the four major ones remained shut down.
“While this situation remains fluid and continues to evolve, the Colonial operations team is executing a plan that involves an incremental process that will facilitate a return to service in a phased approach,” Colonial Pipeline said Monday. “This plan is based on a number of factors with safety and compliance driving our operational decisions, and the goal of substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week.”
Assuming that happens, gas prices shouldn’t rise more than 10 to 20 cents a gallon, but the attack has most definitely created problems for society.