TEXAS, USA — According to Gas Buddy, the shutdown of one of the largest fuel pipelines in the U.S. following a ransomware attack may lead to higher gas prices in some states, but not in Texas.
"When that ransomware gets deployed, what ends up happening is that getting it gets encrypted and then a ransom message is left behind saying that if you want access to your data, you have to pay xx to xx," explained Checkpoint Software Head of Engineering for East Mark Ostrowski.
The attack forced Colonial Pipeline Company to halt all operations on Friday. As of Monday, it's still mostly offline. The company stated it's working to return services in a phased approach, safely. The goal is to restore service by the end of the week.
GasBuddy experts predict gas prices will go up in the southeastern states, which get 45% of their gasoline, diesel and jet fuel through the pipeline. GasBuddy said it's tough to pin the exact amount prices may rise by but, for now, it appears to be a few cents per gallon, possibly growing more significantly if the pipeline remains shut down for more than two or three more days.
The major pipeline runs 5,500 miles from Texas up the East Coast to New Jersey.
While the pipeline runs out of the Houston area, petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy told KVUE it doesn't serve Texas, so we shouldn't see gas prices hike because of it.
But Eric Cole, the founder of Secure Anchor Consulting and author of "Cyber Crisis," said that if the tens of thousands of Texas oil and gas companies listen to this wake-up call and start upgrading their cybersecurity, consumers could feel it in their pockets.
"When you have to start investing a significant amount of money that wasn't planned, an additional cyberinfrastructure, that's going to also not only increase the cost of consumer goods but also have less money to be able to give raises for people that work in Texas," Cole said.
According to Checkpoint Software research, since January 2021, these types of attacks have targeted about 45 Utilities and Critical Infrastructure companies. Five of them are in the US, alone.
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