Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Knowns and unknowns about the hack at Colonial Pipeline

Stock MarketsMay 09, 2021 07:41PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Linden Junction Tank Farm in Woodbridge, New Jersey, U.S. in an undated photograph. Colonial Pipeline/Handout via REUTERS.

By Raphael Satter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ransom-seeking hackers have broken into Colonial Pipeline, prompting the company to shut one of America's major arteries for fuel delivery.

Here is a look at what we know, and what we don't, about one of the most disruptive digital shakedown efforts to hit a U.S. company.

WHO IS INVOLVED?

Alpharetta, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline and the U.S. government have both blamed ransomware for the massive outage, pointing the finger at cybercriminal gangs who routinely hold data and computer networks hostage in exchange for digital currency payments.

There is no official word on which group is believed to have carried out the intrusion - and attributing malicious activity online can be extremely difficult - but a former U.S. official and three industry sources told Reuters a group dubbed "DarkSide" was among the suspects. If so, that would lay the responsibility on a new but professional group of criminals believed to be operating out of the former Soviet republics.

Cybersecurity FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE) is involved with the incident response, according to three industry sources.

HOW BAD IS IT?

Ransomware can deal catastrophic damage to an organization's network by locking away critical data or even wrecking computers beyond repair. But the effect on the actual nuts and bolts of energy companies' operations varies.

A destructive cyberattack on Saudi Aramco (SE:2222) in 2012 crippled the oil giant's computer network but left production more-or-less unscathed. By contrast, a more recent ransomware incident at Norsk Hydro (OTC:NHYDY) temporarily pushed the aluminum maker to switch away from automated production at its smelters.

Experts say the severity of the Colonial case will depend on whether the ransomware made its way into the company's operational technology network, which interfaces with the pipeline itself. Earlier this year, U.S. government officials announced https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-049a that an intrusion at an unnamed natural gas compression plant that spilled over into its operational technology network forced a two-day shut down of its entire pipeline.

Colonial has not given any public indication as to the reach of the ransomware outbreak, but Robert M. Lee, chief executive of cybersecurity firm Dragos, said he believed Colonial's operations network was shut down proactively "to make sure that nothing spread into those systems."

He said that will hopefully translate to "a temporary outage versus something that would be more sustained."

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

U.S. government officials are working with Colonial to help it recover while scrambling to avoid more severe fuel supply disruptions should the outage continue.

Colonial's pipeline network serves major U.S. airports, including Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson Airport, the world's busiest by passenger traffic, and experts say regional fuel supplies could be impacted if the pipeline stays shut.

"A one-to-two-day outage is really a minor inconvenience," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. But by day four or five, he said, "we could see a much greater widespread impact through large areas throughout the mid-Atlantic and the southeast."

Whether the pipeline stays shut that long in turn depends on how deeply the hackers penetrated Colonial's network - and how soon cybersecurity experts can pull them out.

Knowns and unknowns about the hack at Colonial Pipeline
 

Related Articles

Big Tech critic Khan becomes U.S. FTC chair
Big Tech critic Khan becomes U.S. FTC chair By Reuters - Jun 15, 2021 6

By David Shepardson, Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher focused on Big Tech's immense market power, was sworn in on Tuesday as...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Stan Lee
Stan Lee Jun 11, 2021 2:51PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Lol
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email