Cyberattack Forces a Shutdown of a Prime U.S. Pipeline


As a result of it’s privately held, Colonial is underneath much less stress than a publicly traded firm could be to disclose particulars. However because the custodian of a serious piece of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure, the corporate is sure to return underneath scrutiny over the standard of its protections and its transparency about the way it responded to the assault.

Folks conversant in the investigation stated that though Colonial insisted that it turned conscious of the assault on Friday, the occasions appeared to have unfolded over a number of days. It has employed the non-public cybersecurity firm FireEye, which has responded to the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment, power facility breaches within the Center East and lots of occasions involving the federal authorities.

Bringing down the pipeline operations to guard in opposition to a broader, extra damaging intrusion is pretty customary follow. However on this case, it left open the query of whether or not the attackers themselves now had the flexibility to instantly flip the pipelines on or off or result in operations that might trigger an accident.

The ransomware assault is the second identified such incident aimed toward a pipeline operator. Final yr, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Company reported a ransomware assault on a pure fuel compression facility belonging to a pipeline operator. That induced a shutdown of the ability for 2 days, although the company by no means revealed the corporate’s identify.

Cybersecurity specialists say the rise of automated assault instruments and cost of ransom in cryptocurrencies, which make it tougher to hint perpetrators, have exacerbated such assaults.

“We’ve seen ransomware begin hitting mushy targets like hospitals and municipalities, the place dropping entry has real-world penalties and makes victims extra more likely to pay,” stated Ulf Lindqvist, a director at SRI Worldwide who focuses on threats to industrial methods. “We’re speaking concerning the threat of damage or loss of life, not simply dropping your e-mail.”

Colonial Pipeline, based mostly in Alpharetta, Ga., is owned by a number of American and international firms and funding corporations, together with Koch Industries and Royal Dutch Shell. The pipeline connects Houston and the Port of New York and New Jersey and in addition gives jet gas to main airports, together with these in Atlanta and the Washington, D.C., space.