State of Emergency Declared Over Pipeline Shutdown

Ransomware attack continues to wreak havoc
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2021 1:14 AM CDT
Updated May 10, 2021 6:20 AM CDT
State of Emergency Declared Over Pipeline Shutdown
In this Sept. 20, 2016 file photo vehicles are seen near Colonial Pipeline in Helena, Ala.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

The US on Sunday declared a state of emergency in 17 states and the District of Columbia in response to the cyberattack that shut down a major East Coast pipeline on Friday. The Department of Transportation's regional emergency declaration allows fuel to be transported via road, the BBC reports. As the Hill explains, that means restrictions on motor carriers and drivers that are helping areas suffering shortages of "gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products" have been lifted. Experts say the ransomware attack highlights the growing danger such attacks pose to not just businesses but infrastructure. This is "the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure we know of in the United States," one tells Politico.

A ransomware gang known as DarkSide is responsible for the attack, sources tell the AP, which describes the organization as having "a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity." Per NBC News, it's a Russian group, but early indications are that the attack is criminal in origin, rather than organized by a nation-state. Experts say if Colonial Pipeline is up and running as usual within a few days, gasoline prices should not be affected, but if the shutdown continues for a week or more, prices could start going up. Pipeline operators said Sunday they were in the process of restoring some IT systems and coming up with a "system restart" plan, and that some smaller lateral lines were now operational though the main lines are still shut down. (More cyberattack stories.)

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