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Cyberattack strikes major US pipeline firm

May 8, 2021

Colonial Pipeline supplies millions of barrels of fuel to the eastern and southern US each day.

A man stands next to giant fuel pipelines
Colonial Pipeline supplies the southern and eastern United States with fuelImage: Zuma/imago images

US fuel pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline has temporarily halted all pipeline operationsafter a cyberattack, the companysaid in a statement late on Friday.

The company is a major US supplier of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined products.

It transports around 45% of fuel supplies around the US east coast.

How the cyberattack unfolded

Colonial Pipeline said it learned of the attack on Friday, but provided no details of the type of hacking incident.

In response, the firm took systems offline to contain the threat, it said in the statement.

This temporarily halted operations and affected some of its IT systems, it said.

Colonial had shut its main gasoline and distillate lines on Friday, news agency Reuters reported.

Response to the attack

The company brought in a cybersecurity firm and it has launched an investigation.

Colonial also contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies.

Colonial did not give further details or say for how long its pipelines would be shut.

Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure

At the end of 2020, a large-scale cyberattack, named "Sunburst," infiltrated parts of the US government, research institutions and private companies after staff downloaded a hacked SolarWinds software update.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the Department of Energy, confirmed that it had fallen victim to the attack. The NNSA is responsible for US nuclear weapons.

The Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, State, and the Treasury also fell victim.

With material from Reuters

Kate Martyr
Kate Martyr Editor and video producer at DW's Asia Desk and News Digital