Refined petroleum trading higher after ransomware attack shuts down crucial US Colonial pipeline

The US government issued emergency legislation on Sunday after a ransomware attack forced the shutdown of the crucial US Colonial pipeline, which supplies almost half of total East Coast consumption of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

The emergency status relaxes rules on fuel being transported by road. It means drivers in 18 states can work extra or more flexible hours when transporting refined petroleum products.

Sources suggest the attack was caused when Colonial's network was infiltrated on Thursday and almost 100GB of data was taken hostage. After seizing the data, the hackers locked the data on some computers and servers, demanding a ransom on Friday.

Jake Moore, cyber security specialist at ESET: “Purchasing ransomware is now far easier than ever and attempts on critical national industrial infrastructure, as well as businesses, are increasing at an alarming rate. As a result, many are struggling to keep up with the tsunami of attacks.

“These attacks leave organisations in a complex quandary, with multiple questions to answer – including whether or not to pay the ransom – all up against the clock. Failure to comply with the demands could potentially leave them with a huge loss of data, unable to function and/or see some of the stolen data spilt on the internet. However, paying the ransom is no guarantee that the data will ever be restored back to its original state. There is also the bitter taste left behind in the aftermath as to how it happened, as well as the immediate costs of preparing for inevitable repeat attempts.

“Preventative measures make far better security choices: it is always better to patch and protect rather than to pay. However, this can be easier said than done due to the persistence of these threat actors. Organisations of all sizes must ensure they have robust controls in place that protect their email and spam filters, as well as use multi factor authentication and increase user awareness training.”

The recent ransomware attack on the US fuel pipeline is another reminder of the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure.

Refined product prices this morning are trading higher, with concerns about the ongoing impact should the situation persist.

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