Colonial restarts after shut-down
Operators of a 5500-mile fuel pipeline delivering gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the East Coast was recovering from a cyber-attack last week.
Colonial Pipeline was in the process of restarting its operations last Wednesday after a ransomware attack by a n overseas criminal group caused the company to suspend operations for six days.
The Russian-based group, DarkSide, apparently began to access Colonial’s computer network just before the shutdown. Officials say they suspended operations as soon as they felt the system had been compromised. They said DarkSide apparently hacked into part of Colonial’s billing network.
CNN reported that once Colonial felt its billing network was compromised, they pulled the plug systemwide to ensure hackers would not be able to move into other phases of Colonial’s computer network.
One it was learned the billing system was accessed, Colonial became concerned they wouldn’t be able to determine how much to bill customers for fuel they received and made the decision to shut down the entire system.
Colonial supplies over half the gasoline and diesel to the East Coast of the U.S. through the pipeline, running from Texas to New York Harbor. The pipeline runs through several Mississippi counties, including Walthall.
The shutdown kicked off a wave of panic buying in the Southeast U.S. with people trying to store and hoard gasoline anticipating a possible shortage. The panic buying fed a shortage of its own, overwhelming many gas stations, causing them to run out of fuel.
Cybercrime and ransomware are something of a 21st century version of the gangsters of the 1930s. Instead of walking into a bank, armed with guns and demanding money, today’s criminals infiltrate a company’s computer system, effectively shutting the system down and demanding payment of a sum of money—a ransom–from the victim, in this case Colonial, in order to return control of the computer system back to the owners.