Largest US oil pipeline shut down after criminal gang launches cyberattack

All eyes will be on the crude oil industry this week after news broke of a massive cyberattack against one of the largest oil pipelines in the United States.

According to Fox News, the Colonial Pipeline system, owned by Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co., fell victim to a cyberattack over the weekend which forced the company to completely shut down the 5,500 mile-long pipeline system that transports fuel from various Gulf Coast refineries up the eastern seaboard to the New York area. 

As of this writing, experts are hopeful that the pipeline system will be operational within a few days, which would translate into minimum disruptions for the industry and America overall.

However, should the problem be of the magnitude that keeps the pipeline system down for any length of time, oil markets and supporting markets could see similar effects to the industry shakeup that happened as a result of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

For a general gauge of the effects that a prolonged shutdown could have on the country, the pipeline transports nearly 100 million gallons of various types of fuel per day and accounts for roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced on Monday morning via Twitter that they were actively working with Colonial Pipeline Co. to investigate the issue.

As far as who is responsible for the attack, Fox Business reported Monday that a person with knowledge of the ongoing investigation reported that a group called DarkSide, described as a criminal gang with a Robin Hood-like ethos of stealing from the rich and helping the poor, is responsible for the cyberattack.

It was also reported that the type of attack launched against the company is one known as a “ransomware” attack, which typically involve some type of ransom or demand by the attackers.