Top U.S. Pipeline Cyberattack Believed to be Initiated by Russian Criminal Group

DarkSide, a criminal group originating from Russia, is believed to be the organization behind the ransomware cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline last Friday, according to a former cybersecurity official. Colonial Pipeline Company, the operator of 5,500 miles of pipeline that carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, halted its systems after being hit by a ransomware attack. The source said the DarkSide typically targets non-Russian-speaking countries.

Around 100 million gallons of gasoline and other fuels are transported daily by the Colonial Pipeline from Houston to the New York Harbor. It learned of the cyberattack on Friday, and it immediately paused its operations in order to contain the breach.

The White House assembled an interagency working group over the weekend to prepare for various scenarios in response to the attack. A White House official said one of the plans is taking additional steps to mitigate any potential impact on the country’s fuel supply. The interagency group is led by the Department of Energy, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Company said it is working to develop a restart plan for its pipeline system and restoring its affected I.T. systems. Its main lines are still offline, but a few smaller lines between terminals and delivery points have returned to normal operations, the Company said in an official statement on Sunday.

“Over the past 48 hours, Colonial Pipeline personnel has taken additional precautionary measures to help further monitor and protect the safety and security of its pipeline,” the latest statement said. “We will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations.” It added.

After a federal emergency declaration on much of the East and Gulf Coasts in response to the pipeline shutdown, tanker truck drivers will be allowed to work longer hours, the U.S. Department of Transportation said on Sunday. The exemption will be applied to transporting diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, and other refined petroleum products.