Dallas, Texas, June 11, 2021 – On May 7, 2021, gas effectively stopped flowing to the Southeastern and much of the Eastern United States. Advanced warning of the type of cyberattack, which hit the 5,500-mile-long oil and gas pipeline spanning from Texas to New York, was provided by many experts. In fact, discussions of our infrastructure’s vulnerability were a cornerstone of America’s Future Series (AFS) 2021 Cyber, Land, Air, Sea & Space (C.L.A.S.S) Symposium and its 2021 Supply Chain Resilience and Nationals Security Summit. However, the actual hacking of this economically vital source of energy still took most Americans by surprise.
Demanding a $4.4 million ransom, the Colonial attack was perpetrated by a mercenary hacking group called DarkSide, which does not appear to be linked to any state. The cyberattack lasted for five days and the shutdown of the pipeline caused panic buying across the Southeast which further exacerbated shortages. Pictures of buyers filling up plastic bags and storage bins with gasoline filled the internet inviting equal ridicule and sympathy.
As part of its mission to help build a better American future, AFS has worked diligently to bring these public interest topics into both high level and mainstream discussions. At the keynote address of the cybersecurity summit, Lt. Gen Stephen Whiting, the first commander of the United States Space Force, gave examples of how the United States government works to fight threats such as these.
Lt. Gen Whiting stated that, “Back in December of 2020, Lieutenant Fish and his crew were tasked to respond to the SolarWinds cyber hack which affected a variety of sectors worldwide. The team investigated, worked with the investigators and the intelligence community, and provided assistance in mitigating the risk posed by the breech.” It was due to teams such as Lieutenant Fish’s that allowed the FBI to recover most of the funds that Colonial paid to the hackers.
This cyberattack on America’s vital infrastructure is likely not the last. With the hackers making off with millions in Bitcoin and little chance of being arrested, other criminal groups will likely attempt similar hacks. Thus, it is up to the American Government and corporations to step up their cybersecurity and protect America against future intrusions.
With a projected 35 billion internet-connected devices in the world today, it is inevitable that devices critical to our nation’s industry and defense would, at some point, be vulnerable. This is why it is vital to bring both awareness of the severity of these threats as well as the means to deal with them to the attention of business, government and military leaders. We believe it is our responsibility to bring leading experts to share exactly what can be done to mitigate vulnerability and potential damage to our economy and way of life. Experts of all kinds are invited to reach out regarding speaking on solutions, recommendations, case examples, etc.