In the midst of recovering from a devastating cyberattack that led to long lines and gasoline shortages throughout the Southeast, Colonial Pipeline was hit with a service interruption Tuesday, but later said its scheduling system was back online.
The Georgia-based fuel provider said the problem was not the result of ransomware or another cyberattack.
“Our internal server that runs our nomination system experienced intermittent disruptions this morning due to some of the hardening efforts that are ongoing and part of our restoration process,” a company spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “These issues were not related to the ransomware or any type of reinfection. We are working diligently to bring our nomination system back online and will continue to keep our shippers updated. The Colonial Pipeline system continues to deliver refined products as nominated by our shippers.”
A cyberattack by hackers who lock up computer systems and demand a ransom to release them hit the Colonial Pipeline on May 7. The hackers didn’t take control of pipeline operations, but the Alpharetta-based company shut it down to prevent malware from affecting industrial control systems.
The Colonial Pipeline stretches from Texas to New Jersey and delivers about 45% of the gasoline consumed on the East Coast. The shutdown has caused shortages at the pumps throughout the South and emptied stations in the Washington, D.C., area.
President Joe Biden said U.S. officials do not believe the Russian government was involved, but said “we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia.”
As Colonial reported making “substantial progress” Friday in restoring full service, two people briefed on the matter confirmed the company had paid a ransom of about $5 million.
Much of the U.S. pipeline infrastructure, including Colonial, is privately owned. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate pipelines, said this week the U.S. should establish mandatory cybersecurity standards for pipelines similar to those in the electricity sector.
“Simply encouraging pipelines to voluntarily adopt best practices is an inadequate response to the ever-increasing number and sophistication of malevolent cyber actors,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said.
The ransomware attack should play a role as Congress considers Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said last week.