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Cyberattack on US Pipeline

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May 12, 2021

Why in news?

Recently a ransomware attack on a key US pipeline network has led to a disruption in fuel supplies in the eastern part of the U.S.

What is a ransomware attack?

  • A ransomware attack is a cyber-attack using malware that encrypts the victim’s files and requires users pay a ransom to decrypt the files.
  • Nowadays with companies having moved to real-time backups, hackers have also added the element of downloading all the data on an enterprise network before encrypting it.
  • The hackers can then threaten to leak the data if the ransom is not paid.
  • This attack on colonial pipeline company is the one which transports 45% of all petrol and diesel which is consumed on the east coast of U.S.
  • The US Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed  that a criminal gang called Darkside was responsible for compromising the Colonial Pipeline network.

How did this attack impact oil prices?

  • In response to the attack, the price of Brent crude rose to $69 per barrel on Monday before falling to $67.8 on Tuesday.
  • The Colonial Pipeline company has said that it is restoring operations in a phased manner with the goal of completing the operations by a week.
  • But a prolonged shutdown of the operations of the pipeline could push up petrol prices in the US as demand peaks during the summer.
  • This disruption has already led to an uptick in international refining margins thereby pushing up the price of auto fuels.
  • Moreover an increase in the price of petroleum products in Asia could provide a further push to petrol and diesel prices in India, which are already at record high levels.
  • Despite a surge in COVID-19infections, crude oil prices have risen over the past fortnight due to  the expectations of increasing crude oil demand from the US and Europe.

How can oil and gas companies deal with such attacks?

  • Now there is a need to move towards fortifying approaches to prevent attacks by employing a zero-trust security framework in enterprise networks.
  • A zero-trust approach means anything is suspected whenever any activity is done on the network, and every user, including the CEO, will have to be verified time and again.
  • Other  measures such as Cloud Access Security Brokers (CPAB), which act as intermediaries between users and cloud service providers, could give teeth to an overall cybersecurity strategy.
  • It is also noted that India’s oil and gas PSUs were making efforts to improve security and the organisations.
  • These PSUs manage the critical infrastructure such as pipelines and refineries and are required by the government to implement certain security measures.


Source: Indian Express

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