The dust has settled, and now we can more clearly examine the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack that occurred on May 7. Colonial Pipeline Co. paid approximately $5 million to Eastern European hacker collective, DarkSide, after a ransomware attack. But if Colonial had the protection of a reliable IT company, it may have been able to thwart the attack before it happened.
Hackers Compromise the Pipeline’s Network
The attack did not compromise the pipeline, which carries diesel and jet fuel from Texas to New York, as many had mistakenly believed. Rather, the ransomware attack interrupted Colonial’s ability to bill its customers. In response, Colonial halted the pipeline–which carries approximately 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the eastern seaboard–until it could verify the integrity of its network. Immediately after the attack, Colonial hired the cybersecurity firm FireEye Mandiant. The firm has refused to comment on the vulnerability that DarkSide exploited in the network, but they have been cooperating with the FBI.
The Impact of the Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack
After news broke about the ransomware attack and Colonial halted operations, panic buying of fuel ensued. By day four, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina all reported fuel shortages. Charlotte, North Carolina was the hardest hit at first — reporting 71 percent of filling stations had run out of fuel by May 11.
Then, on May 14, Washington D.C. reported that 87 percent of filling stations were out of gas. American Airlines was forced to change its flight schedules temporarily in response.
The fuel shortage drove national pump prices to $3 a gallon, a six-year high. Almost a month after the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, national gas pump prices remain above $3.
How to Protect Your Company from Cyberattacks
These types of attacks continue to grow in frequency. Besides this cyberattack, there was the SolarWinds attack last year and the Microsoft Exchange attack this year.
Have a Cybersecurity Solution
A critical mistake that Colonial made was to wait until they were compromised to hire a cybersecurity firm. They should have already had a solution and a team in place before the attack ever occurred.
Have a Data Back-Up Solution
After their data was encrypted they were forced to pay a ransom to the hackers for an encryption key. Had they possessed a reliable backup solution this would not have been necessary.
Protect Your Company with Our Expert IT Services
No matter the size of your business, you are not immune to experiencing major business disruptions, like the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack. To navigate the world of new and emerging threats, you need an IT team you can trust. The experts at TCI Technologies have the experience and technical knowledge to protect your business from the threat of cyberattacks.
Contact our team to learn more.