ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA — The hack on a 5,500-mile pipeline on the U.S. East Coast is being looked at as one of the most significant attacks on key national infrastructure in history, according to the BBC.
The Colonial Pipeline, which according to CNET serves fuel to seven airports and 14 states, was forced to shut down on Saturday after hackers broke into its computer systems in order to hold the company to ransom.
Colonial is working with shippers to deliver fuel, according to CNET, however the Associated Press says more than 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast have reported running dry due to panic buying, with states of emergency declared in both Florida and Virginia.
It is possible hackers could have gained access to Colonial's computer network simply using an email to an employee, according to cyber expert Jon Niccolls, from CheckPoint, who was cited by the BBC.
The FBI has identified the hacker group DarkSide as the group behind the attack and, describing Darkside's sophisticated operation, Cybereason reports that they use a help desk to negotiate with the targets of their attacks and have their own affiliate program.
CNET reports that these types of cyber attacks have become common.
City governments around the U.S., including Baltimore's and Atlanta's, have been hit by ransomware attacks in the past, and hospitals have been forced to shut down.