Friday (7th MAY): The pipeline stretching from Texas to New Jersey, the spine of America’s energy supply, went down after being crippled by a cyberattack. Tank and barge transportation was the only option left for the traders and refiners, as the period before normalcy kept on increasing. The pipeline supplies diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and petroleum-based products to the regions in between.
President Joe Biden was informed after consulting with FireEye (a cybersecurity firm), that the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was concerned about the importance of the pipeline to both the economy and energy security. They were also analyzing the attack to assist the Colonial in restoring operations. The event was claimed to be a ransomware attack, according to Colonial Pipeline, which took "some devices offline to contain the threat, and temporarily suspended all pipeline operations." The computer networks were also harmed. Even, the media constantly stated the act to be a ransomware attack, neglecting the chances of any state-sponsored disruption.
CISA: This time the impact and scale are high, but it is not the first ransomware attack on America’s pipeline network-a similar cyber breach and shutdown at an unnamed natural gas compression station were reported last year. "It’s the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure we know of in the United States," said Amy Myers Jaffe, researcher and author of Energy's Digital Future, speaking to Reuters. "We're lucky if there are no consequences, but it's a definite alarm bell."
The U.S. Southeast is highly dependent on the Colonial Pipeline for fuel supplies and is reporting a constant shortage. The cyberattack consequences are worsening day by day due to the demand spike and panic buying seen in all U.S. regions. 8% of all gas stations have already reported them dead in Virginia. The state-imposed gasoline tax is suspended to reduce consumers’ prices in Georgia. Although diesel and jet fuel supplies were less affected, some flights were able to reroute themselves to accommodate fuel availability. Similar situations arose when Hurricane Harvey provoked a shut-in of the Colonial pipeline as a precautionary measure.
The impact on chartering has been mixed, with early evidence of speculative inquiries on EU-to-US routes but little firm bookings. Clean tanker rates on the US Gulf-to-Europe and US Gulf-to-Mexico routes have reached a 12-month peak. Refineries along the Gulf Coast are looking for new markets for gasoline that would otherwise be imported by pipeline. According to Reuters, five refiners have booked or tentatively booked floating storage in the United States Gulf of Mexico.
The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline has been alleged by the criminal hacking group DarkSide, and the FBI has reported that the group is to blame. U.S. Darkside is known for encrypting, locking, and then publicly releasing the target's data if a ransom is not paid, claimed Cybereason (Security Consultancy).
"DarkSide is observed being used against targets in English-speaking countries, and appears to avoid targets in countries associated with former Soviet Bloc nations," noted Cybereason. "The ransom demand ranges between the US $200,000 to $2,000,000, and according to their website, the group has published stolen data from more than 40 victims, which is estimated to be just a fraction of the overall number of victims."
President Joe Biden stated on Monday that there is no evidence that the cyberattack was attributable to the Russian government-though there are indications that the ransomware service "resides in Russia."
Colonial is already resuming some facilities using backup approaches and is optimistic that operational completeness can be restored by the end of this week.