Energy officials and cybersecurity experts have long warned that America’s energy infrastructure is susceptible to cyber attacks. In 2018, Karen Evans, then the assistant secretary for cybersecurity for the Department of Energy, testified before a House committee that energy infrastructure — pipelines, transformers, and other critical conduits for fuel and power — “has become a primary target for hostile cyber actors.”
Last week, a ransomware attack on the company behind the U.S.’s biggest fossil fuel pipeline emphatically proved her point.
On Friday afternoon, hackers stole enough corporate data from Colonial Pipeline to force the company to shut down its 5,500-mile system of pipelines, which transport some 2.5 million barrels of gas, diesel, heating oil, and jet fuel each day from Houston to New Jersey. The system serves 50 million Americans and several airports along its route, ultimately providing the East Coast with nearly half of its fuel.
Cybercriminals used ransomware, code that can lock computer systems and hold them hostage in exchange for money, in the attack. The company has not publicly offered up any deta... Read more