US pipelines ordered to strengthen cyber defenses

DHS raises IT security standards after Colonial Pipeline hack

Man carrying a larger pipe

For the first time, US pipeline operators will be required to conduct a cyber security assessment, according to a new federal rule that's coming down in the wake of the recent ransomware hack that disrupted gasoline supplies in the Southeast.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new security directive Thursday. Until now, American pipeline companies operated under purely voluntary cyber security guidelines.

The new directive requires pipeline owners and operators to report any cyber incidents to the federal government, according to Reuters and the Associated Press. They also must have a designated cyber security coordinator available 24/7 to work with authorities in the event of an attack.

Pipeline owners and operators are required to review their cyber security practices and identify any potential gaps or risks. They have 30 days to report these to the Transportation Security Administration. 

Failing to comply could result in fines starting at $7,000 per day.

"The recent ransomware attack on a major petroleum pipeline demonstrates that the cybersecurity of pipeline systems is critical to our homeland security," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

Related Resource

Defend your organisation from evolving ransomware attacks

Learn what it takes to reduce risk and strengthen operational resiliency

Defend your organisation from evolving ransomware attacks - whitepaper from VeritasDownload now

In the recent Colonial Pipeline cyber attack, Colonial's CEO has confirmed the pipeline company paid $4.4 million to cyber criminals who hit it with a ransomware attack in early May.

CEO Joseph Blount said he approved the payment because executives were unclear how extensive the attack was, how far it had penetrated systems, and the time it would take to bring company operations back to normal.

When DarkSide hackers attacked Colonial, they forced it to shut down 5,500 miles of pipeline between Texas and New York, disrupting the fuel supply to large swaths of the East Coast. They also took 100GB of data from the network before locking computers and extorting the company for a ransom payment. 

Once Colonial paid, the hackers sent a decryption tool to fix its computer systems. However, the tool was slow to fix problems, leaving the pipeline company relying on backups to restore systems.

According to the FBI, the hackers, known as Darkside, are in Eastern Europe or Russia.. Darkside reportedly expressed regret at the amount of damage it caused the Colonial. The hackers said they were "apolitical" and didn't "participate in geopolitics."

Featured Resources

2021 Thales access management index: Global edition

The challenges of trusted access in a cloud-first world

Free download

Transforming higher education for the digital era

The future is yours

Free download

Building a cloud-native, hybrid-multi cloud infrastructure

Get ready for hybrid-multi cloud databases, AI, and machine learning workloads

Free download

The next biggest shopping destination is the cloud

Know why retail businesses must move to the cloud

Free Download

Recommended

Marsh McLennan reveals its cyber risk analytics center
risk management

Marsh McLennan reveals its cyber risk analytics center

15 Oct 2021
MirrorBlast phishing campaign targets financial companies
phishing

MirrorBlast phishing campaign targets financial companies

15 Oct 2021
£100 contactless payment limit could place shoppers at risk, warn industry experts
Policy & legislation

£100 contactless payment limit could place shoppers at risk, warn industry experts

15 Oct 2021
Hackers used MSHTML exploit a week before patches were ready
zero-day exploit

Hackers used MSHTML exploit a week before patches were ready

14 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Cleaning up legacy IT to drag big tobacco into the future
digital transformation

Cleaning up legacy IT to drag big tobacco into the future

12 Oct 2021