The Colonial Pipeline, the pipeline that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico in the southern United States to the east coast has been shut down following a cyber attack.

The ransomware attack dates back to Friday but has only now been confirmed. In a ransomware attack, where malicious software is installed that can block a computer or encrypt files, the perpetrators often demand a ransom. According to Colonial Pipeline, several IT systems were proactively shut down after the cyberattack. This was done “to contain the threat.” The operator notified the authorities and also engaged an external IT company.

The impact is limited for the time being because fuel consumption is lower as a result of the corona pandemic. The 5500 miles pipeline transports gasoline, diesel and heating oil, at a rate of approximately 2.5 million barrels per day. This accounts for nearly half (45%) of the fuel used on the US East Coast by more than 50 million people. The US military is also an important customer.

The company says it is now working on a solution to keep the impact as small as possible and return to normal transport normalisation. According to the New York Times newspaper, the impact is limited. This because the fuel consumption is lower as a result of the corona pandemic.

Previous cases

Hackers are increasingly carrying out cyber attacks on companies and government infrastructure. In 2017 ‘WannaCry’ computers from the British health service and the German railways were shut down. The most successful attempt to hit critical infrastructure happened in Ukraine. A Russian hacker caused a massive power outage in December 2015. In February there was another attempt to manipulate drinking water in the US state of Florida.

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