A major U.S. pipeline came under a ransomware attack and shut the U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline’s entire network, which makes this digital ransom operation one of the most disruptive to date. This forced Colonial Pipeline to “take certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of our IT systems”. President Joe Biden was briefed on the issue on Saturday morning and The White House confirmed that the federal government was working to investigate what possible vulnerabilities were exposed by the attack. Experts said that gasoline prices are unlikely to be affected if the pipeline is back to normal in the next few days but that the incident should serve as a wake-up call to companies about the vulnerabilities they face.
Colonial Pipeline is a company that transports more than 100 million gallons of gasoline and other fuel daily, from Houston to the New York Harbor. It delivers roughly 45 percent of the fuel consumed on the East Coast. The Colonial Pipeline disruption is the third major cybersecurity incident confronting the Biden administration in its first few months, following the hack of software made by SolarWinds and the exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities.
Hacking threats to critical infrastructure have been growing, making it a priority to increase the security of utilities and their suppliers, since pipelines play a central role in the U.S. economy. According to experts, the impact of the attack depends on how long the pipeline is down, adding that a key concern about a lengthy delay would be the supply of jet fuel needed to keep major airports operating. Cybersecurity Ventures expects global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion USD annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion USD in 2015 and predicts that there will be a ransomware attack on businesses every 11 seconds in 2021. This does not include attacks on individuals, which occurs even more frequently than businesses.
This is why critical infrastructure companies need to invest more in cybersecurity. Cyber attacks pose a huge threat to all organizations, regardless of their size and sector, which is why it’s necessary to take action and strengthen their cybersecurity posture, to reduce their exposure to these types of threats. Security experts said the attack should be a warning for operators of critical infrastructure — including electrical and water utilities and energy and transportation companies — that not investing in updating their security puts them at risk of catastrophe.
Author Ana Kranj | NITS , May 14, 2021