The US government declared a state of emergency in some regions of the country on Sunday (09/05) after the country’s largest gas pipeline network (Colonial Pipeline) suffered a cyber attack on Friday night.
The decree aims to prevent fuel shortages in the region. This was the worst attempt of its kind against the infrastructure of the United States. The decree also makes working hours more flexible and allows overtime to be provided to guarantee supplies.
A group of hackers completely disconnected the network and stole more than 100 GB of information from the Colonial company’s pipeline.
The pipeline transports more than 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, which corresponds to 45% of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, gasoline and aviation kerosene.
The state of emergency covers 17 states in the country and suspends time restrictions for the transportation of fuels by road.
Several sources confirmed that the cyber attack was caused by a group of hackers called DarkSide, who infiltrated Colonial’s network on Thursday.
The DarkSide group claims that, in its attacks, it targets only large companies and donates part of the proceeds obtained to charity.
According to experts, the group would be formed by veteran cybercriminals, aimed at extracting the maximum money from the victims.
“Shortly after learning of the attack, Colonial proactively shut down certain systems to contain the threat. These actions temporarily disrupted all pipeline operations and affected some of our technology systems, which we are actively in the process of restoring, “said the company.
The energy company said in a statement that it is working with law enforcement officials, cybersecurity experts and the Department of Energy to restore service.
In the statement, Colonial specifies that while its four main lines remain out of service, some smaller side lines between terminals and delivery points are already operational.
“We are in the process of restoring the service to other sides and will put our entire system back online only when we think it is safe to do so and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations,” he clarified.
Independent market analyst Gaurav Sharma told the BBC that as a result of the attack and consequently with the state of emergency, oil products could be shipped by water trucks to New York, but that would still not be below the pipeline’s capacity.
“Unless they solve everything by Tuesday, they will be in big trouble,” says Sharma.
“The first areas to be affected will be Atlanta and Tennessee, and then the ripple effect will reach New York,” he said.
The cyber attack comes at a time when US reserves are decreasing and demand, especially for vehicle fuels, is increasing. Consumers are returning to the roads as the US economy tries to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
According to Digital Shadows, a London-based cybersecurity company that tracks global cyber criminals, the attack occurred because hackers found a way to penetrate the system by taking advantage of the large number of engineers who remotely access control systems.
Retail fuel experts, including the American Automobile Association, said a multi-day outage could have significant impacts on regional fuel supply, particularly in the southeastern United States.
Fuel market operators, meanwhile, have provisionally booked at least six tankers to ship gasoline from Europe to destinations in the United States after the attack. Two European gasoline traders, however, said the market is taking a cautious approach to see how long the closing will take.