The news of another massive online data breach may make you feel powerless to safeguard your privacy. However, you can take some concrete steps to protect yourself in the aftermath of the recent Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, as well as other breaches.

On May 7, 2021, Colonial Pipeline, an American oil pipeline system carrying gasoline and jet fuel, suffered a ransomware cyberattack. This attack impacted the computerized equipment managing the pipeline and had a major impact on the pipeline’s operations. This was the largest cyberattack on oil infrastructure in the history of the United States.

Colonial Pipeline released a statement on their website:

“Quickly after learning of the attack, Colonial proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat. These actions temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of our IT systems, which we are actively in the process of restoring.”

Global Impact

Colonial Pipeline supplies 45% of fuel supplies on the East Coast. The pipeline transports gas, diesel, home heating oil, and jet fuel through 2.5 million barrels each day and reaching more than 50 million people.

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack has also resulted in reports of gas shortages and price surges throughout some states. According to Gas Buddy, 70% of Washington, D.C. gas stations are reporting outages, along with 47% of North Carolina and 43% of South Carolina. And for the first time in more than six years, gas prices rose above $3 a gallon according to the Wall Street Journal.

Stay Vigilant

Colonial Pipeline was able to resume its operations as nearly a $5 million ransom was paid to Darkside, the hackers behind the ransomware attack.

Even with Colonial Pipeline paying the ransom, the FBI stated they do not agree with paying hackers ransom.

“The FBI does not support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack. Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee you or your organization will get any data back. It also encourages perpetrators to target more victims and offers an incentive for others to get involved in this type of illegal activity.”

The FBI provided other solutions to avoid paying hackers:

  • Keep operating systems, software, and applications current and up to date. 
  • Make sure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and run regular scans.
  • Back up data regularly and double-check that those backups were completed.
  • Secure your backups. Make sure they are not connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.
  • Create a continuity plan in case your business or organization is the victim of a ransomware attack.

Protect Your Business

Businesses need to focus on risks to protect their organization. Our cybersecurity team has highlighted five key risks in a recent blog post.

For more information on protecting yourself or your organization, contact our cybersecurity team.

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