Hold onto your hats: Gas prices may be going up even more

Considering how hard President Trump fought to accomplish anything despite nonstop opposition from Democrats and unusually high opposition from the RINOs in his own party, it seems tacky to complain about one of his failures. Nevertheless, with news breaking late Friday night that a cyber-attack disabled the largest gas and diesel pipeline in America, we must regret the fact that he did not get the chance to harden America’s infrastructure against attack. This major ransomware attack reminds us how vulnerable we are, not just to blackmail, but to our infrastructure’s destruction.

According to American Military News:

On Friday night, the largest U.S. gas pipeline announced it had halted its operations after it discovered it was targeted in a cyber attack. The pipeline provides about 45 percent of the fuel supply along the east coast and southern United States.

In a company statement Friday night, Colonial Pipeline said, “On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack. In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.”

The pipeline turns out to be a really impressive piece of engineering:

Colonial operates the largest refined products pipeline in the U.S., transporting 100 million gallons or 2.5 million barrels per day, according to its website. Refined products include gas, diesel, home heating oil and jet fuel. The pipeline also supplies the U.S. military.

Colonial’s system spans over 5,500 miles between Texas and New Jersey, connecting refineries on the Gulf Coast to more than 50 million people in the southern and eastern U.S., according to the company.

Imagine all the parts that have to work together, both human and mechanical, to keep gas and diesel flowing through those 5,500 miles of pipe. It is both shocking and disturbing that people sitting at a computer somewhere in the world can hack into that system and disable it entirely. In a way, it’s almost good that what happened to Colonial is “just” a ransomware attack. It could have been something much more malevolent in terms of the system’s long-term functionality.

It is no secret in this computer age that America has systems that are incredibly vulnerable to hackers. Our infrastructure is not made up only of federal government systems. It includes utilities – imagine if a Chinese or North Korean EMP detonates above America and disables most of its electrical grid – as well as private companies that supply products on which America depends to function.

It is to be hoped that every business, whether public or private, in America looks at what happened to Colonial Pipeline and takes it as a personal warning to beef up its computer defenses against any type of attack. I hope, too, that there’s a swift and cheap resolution to Colonial’s situation. Otherwise, the 30% increase in gas prices that we’ve already seen in the East and Southeast will seem inconsequential compared to what’s coming down the pipeline (pardon the pun).

IMAGE: Colonial Pipeline. YouTube screengrab.

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