Cyberattack on critical pipeline freezes deliveries to U.S. East Coast

The main fuel supply line to the U.S. East Coast was shut down on Friday after the pipeline’s operator was hit by a cyber attack.

The attack on the Colonial Pipeline, which runs 5,500 miles and provides nearly half the fuel used on the East Coast, affected some of the company’s IT systems. Colonial said in a statement late Friday it has engaged an unidentified third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate the incident, and has contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies.

The company said the process is underway to restore its service and return to normal operations. The FBI, the Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could not be immediately reached for comment.

Improving cybersecurity in the energy sector has been a key task for several federal agencies. Last month, the DOE and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency launched an initiative to work with industrial control system operations in the electric sector to improve cybersecurity detection.

Colonial Pipeline is the largest refined products pipeline in the United States, transporting 2.5 million barrels per day, and about 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil.

Last year, a crack in in the pipeline that went undetected for days or weeks leaked 1.2 million gallons of gasoline in a nature preserve near Charlotte, N.C.


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