East Coast sees gas shortages, price hikes following cyber attack on major fuel pipeline

After Colonial Pipeline decided to shut down the country’s largest fuel pipeline over cybersecurity threats Friday, states all over the East Coast are experiencing a gas shortage. The pipeline stretches from New Jersey to east Texas.

This comes after ransomware hackers allegedly gained access to information to attack vulnerable parts of the pipeline. In a statement, Colonial Pipeline said it shut the pipeline down as a precaution.

The hackers behind the attack was the group known as DarkSide. It’s a relatively new group, that believes in “ransomware as a service” according to a statement. Their involvement was confirmed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

First, North Carolina declared a state of emergency Monday over the shortage. According to a press release, “The Colonial Pipeline is a primary fuel pipeline for North Carolina.” Governor Roy Cooper said he declared the state of emergency to help “ensure motorists are able to have access to fuel.” Alabama, Arkansas, Wasington D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia followed suit, all declaring states of emergency.

Next, gas prices jumped six cents nationally. AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said to expect regional impacts in a statement Monday. “Areas including Mississippi, Tennessee and the east coast from Georgia into Delaware are most likely to experience limited fuel availability and price increases, as early as this week,” McGee said. “These states may see prices increase three to seven cents this week.”

Then, in a press conference Monday, Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology, discussed the situation with reporters. When asked if the ransomware attackers will receive a ransom, Neuberger said that will be a “private sector decision.”

Next, Colonial Pipeline’s website crashed. While many pointed to the hackers yet again, the company tweeted out that the crash was “unrelated to the ransomware.”

There is no word when the pipeline will be open.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism