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Cyberattack Forces a Shutdown of a Major U.S. Pipeline Operator

A major fueling pipeline was taken offline late Friday by its operator due to an apparent cyberattack.

Colonial Pipeline shut down its 5,500 miles of pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York, late Friday by the operator, according to a statement.

The cyberattack forced the shutdown of one of the largest pipelines in the United States, according to the New York Times. This appeared to be a significant attempt in order to disrupt vulnerable energy infrastructure since the pipeline carries refined gasoline and jet fuel up the East Coast.

The Times reports, the pipeline carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, which equates to 2.5 million barrels each day. In the efforts to contain the breach on the computer’s network, the operator shut the system down. Reportedly, earlier Friday, there were disruptions along the pipeline, but it was unclear whether that was a direct result of the attack.

Colonial Pipeline said in a statement:

On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems. Upon learning of the issue, a leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have already launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing. We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies.

The pipeline indicated it is “taking steps to understand and resolve this issue,” they said in a statement.

“Our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation,” the company added. In order to “minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline,” the pipeline is already “diligently” working on the process.

Federal law enforcement and homeland security officials are starting to investigating, according to the Washington Post. The officials told the Post, “they do not yet know whether the attack on top U.S. fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline was carried out by foreign government hackers or a criminal group.”

The matter is “too early” to tell, one official told the Post under the condition of anonymity since the investigation is still ongoing.

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