An American Cyber Security Tragedy
Ransomeware attack by a Russian cyber-gang is putting severe transportation constraints on the eastern United States. The vulnerability of the United States utility infrastructure is very evident and so is the Russian interest to protect their inflated oil prices.
Cyber-attacks have underlined the fragility of the U.S. fuel supply and placed the East Coast of the country’s gasoline supply and electricity network in peril. Colonial Pipeline had indicated that it was aiming to resume operations by the end of the week after a cyber-attack crippled the gasoline pipeline fueling the East Coast’s fuel supply and highlighted the United States’ energy vulnerability infrastructure hackers.
The Colonial Pipeline is the primary outlet for oil, diesel, and jet fuel distribution in the United States, linking Gulf Coast refineries to urban centers ranging from Atlanta to New York and beyond.
Colonial transports approximately 2.5 million barrels per day and transports their petroleum product over 5,500 miles of pipeline.
This is the newest instance of ransomware targeting sensitive and very vulnerable infrastructure.
Hackers are constantly attempting to compromise critical infrastructures such as power grids and other sensitive infrastructure vulnerabilities.
On Monday, the FBI put the blame on the ransomware-related Russian gang known as Darkside. Did Vladimir Putin know, and was the Russian government involved? If Putin is involved, what will the United States use to defend itself; more sanctions? Unless Russia and Putin put an end to this homegrown cyber-insanity, the world is being put in a perilous place next to not cyber-retaliation but real-life and death retaliation.
Any accredited sane leader of a creditable country would go to any lengths to put an end to this madness. Too not put the full resources of Russian security forces behind this effort to bring these cyber terrorists to justice speaks volumes. What it says to the rest of the world is 60 dollar oil prices are more important.
Yesterday Darkside made a statement that their intention is to not harm society. “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.” Well, guess what, you miscalculated! And so has all involved!
Darkside said its hackers must in the future conduct background checks on fellow cybercriminals “to avert potential social implications.” To rely on the moral and ethical values whose only intent is to make money through cyber-attacking vulnerable companies is not a viable approach to build a national cybersecurity platform.
Over the last three years, it is estimated that Darkside and other cyber-terrorist groups are responsible for tens of billions of dollars in losses to Western nations.
Biden fell short of making the accusation that Russia was behind the attack. Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said that Russia had nothing to do with the assault and was an assault on Russia’s reputation.
The White House responded to the escalating threats last month with a proposal to beef up protection at utilities and their suppliers.
Pipelines are a particular source of controversy due to their critical position in the U.S. economy.
In ransomware attacks, hackers seed networks with malicious malware that encrypts data and locks victims’ computers before they pay the extortion charge.
This will be the first assault on a U.S. gasoline pipeline in history. What’s next, the eastern electric power grid or the U.S. train network.
The Northeast will secure fuel imports from Europe, but the cost will rise exponentially the longer the pipeline remains closed.
Today we woke up to unparalleled fuel pipeline disruptions on the east coast and the southern United States; motorists are searching in vain for gasoline and diesel across wide areas.
According to the American Automobile Association, Americans should expect gas prices to go up over the next week, reaching their highest average since May 2014.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, an average gallon of daily fuel cost $2.33 on January 21.
At the beginning of this week, the amount had risen to $2.96, and today, AAA reported that the average gallon cost $2.99, the highest level since November 2014.
Colonial Pipeline said it was preparing to resume significant operations by the end of this week.
But, gasoline supplies tightened further in areas of the United States on Tuesday when the nation’s largest petrol pipeline Colonial Pipeline was shut down for the fifth consecutive day by hackers, creating panic of price hikes at the pump ahead of the summer driving season. Colonial Pipeline has only managed to resume a small part of the operation as a stopgap measure. As such, they believe the amount restored would be inadequate to provide full service and don’t feel they can resume much of its total capacity by the weekend.
The White House eased specific environmental regulations to facilitate transportation over U.S. highways of petroleum from other areas of the country.
Federal environmental authorities are waiving regulations prohibiting the selling of synthetic gasoline in areas that require reformulated diesel.
Additionally, they would legalize the selling of fuel that does not meet smog-fighting standards.
The exemptions are valid until May 18 in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
In the event of an extended gasoline shortage, where there are already viable options for distribution by rail and truck, then alternatives can be found.
On Sunday, the Department of Transportation relaxed gasoline delivery limits in 17 states crippled by the previous weekend’s supply shortage.
The companies who use the pipeline, shippers, distributors, and suppliers are increasingly exasperated due to the lack of accountability and lack of information. This poor communication is sure to mean slight improvement will be seen over the next 48 hours.
John Patrick, Liberty Petroleum LLC’s chief executive officer, said…
“It’s going to be catastrophic.”
“Governors should declare a state of emergency and ask people chasing tanker trucks to gas stations to stay home. School buses stay put.”
Colonial CEO Joe Blount and a senior lieutenant told Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and state officials on Monday that the firm has full operating control of the pipeline and will not resume shipments until the ransomware is resolved.
Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia could be particularly more vulnerable due to their restricted alternative fuel transportation options.
Gulf Coast states can rely on tanker shipping more effectively.