People were lined up to buy gas for hours. Why?
On Friday, May 7th, one of the U.S.’s largest pipelines was closed due to a ransomware attack. The Colonial Pipeline, in response, was forced to close operations, causing what was expected to be a shortage of gasoline in the entire southwest. Because Colonial Pipeline is actually responsible for roughly 45% of the East Coast’s fuel, which also includes diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel, concerns spread across many cities in the country.
The group, Darkware, a group that sells ransomware to customers, by hacking into the Colonial Pipeline, could have affected a big swatch of America as the pipe runs between Texas all the way to New York at 5,500 miles.
Thanks to the commitment and dedication of the many Colonial team members who worked safely and tirelessly through the night, Colonial product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service. Latest update: https://t.co/kpWNw0UQve pic.twitter.com/Qf8XFQkzGL
— Colonial Pipeline (@Colpipe) May 13, 2021
The pipeline wasn’t effectively restored until the end of this week, causing the gasoline future to jump to its highest point in three years. And of course, that meant there was a lot of panic buying similar to what we saw last year during the peak of the pandemic, where toilet paper and hand sanitizers became hot commodities. We saw this in some parts of the country, Charlotte included, and as a result, some gas stations were running out of product faster than they would have been otherwise.
We just got off the phone with #ColonialPipeline CEO. They are restarting pipeline operations today at ~5pm. More soon.
— Secretary Jennifer Granholm (@SecGranholm) May 12, 2021
The Pipeline has been restored (just yesterday), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything has gone back to normal. Time still needs to be allotted in order to get things flowing the way they had before the shutdown. They’ve even said in an official statement that it will likely take several days for the chain of supply to return to normal. We’re not out of the woods yet, but what we don’t want to do is continue panic-buying, as likely this could lead to shortages in ways we wouldn’t see without.
This incident also shows that the U.S. needs to step up their cyber security to avoid software attacks in the future, as this has been the largest, successful hack of a country’s infrastructure to date. President Biden has signed an executive order to do just that.
For now, let’s hope that prices don’t spike and long lines and wait times don’t effect our daily commutes as the days go by.
Photo by Jean-christophe Gougeon on Unsplash