The attack perpetrated by hackers on oil company Colonial Pipeline highlights the dangers that are facing Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and the need for change in the information security landscape,
The attack took place on May 7th where hackers used ransomware to cripple the defense of the company. As a result, all operations were forced to shut down as well as operating systems used by the company. A group named DarkSide claimed to be responsible for Colonial Pipelines attack.
The hacker group is active since august and are part of a professional crime industry that have caused damage of billions of dollars. President Biden has delivery remarks that point out to the involvement of Russia in the development of the ransomware. It is not clear if the Colonial company has paid the demands.
The attack brought to light how critical national infrastructure (CNI) is vulnerable and the need of new methodologies to address new menaces that are evolving on a daily basis on many different ways. As far as we know this attack have proved that the understanding of information security has become outdated as well the solutions that were supposed to protect companies assets.
The impact of the attack was far beyond then expected. Consumers were directely impacted with a hike on prices. Also, in South east some drivers started to stocking up as available oil dropped down in fuel stations. About 5,500 miles of pipeline were shutdown. To figure it out in numbers it represents 45% of fuel comsumed from texas to new york.
As reported by Recorded Future ransomware attack groups are gainning momentum and wide spreading throughout every and all sector. From industry to education everyone is on target of ransomware. It is importante to notice that hackers are publishing part of the data and demanding money to do not publish all the data stolen.
While the United States leads the attack of ransomware hackers are aiming to make other countries victims. Freedom and security are deeply rooted in the american dream, but today all the nation see this rights going down with the dangers of information security.
The US Department of Justice and a group of companies have created a task force to manage the issue of ransomware threat. However, the tools that were released by equation group in the past can be the tipping point to new attacks or development of new ways to bypass known protections.
Little is known yet how the company was breached but it was certanly that the goal was to obtain money instead of corrupting the system. Some parts of the system were restored and the company said it will update their systems. Part of operations are manual at this time but its not sure when the supplies will return to normal.
The question now is if the available supplies will be enough. The disruption of the supplies could lead to an impact on many sectors. Bitdefender released a decryption tool on january for an older version of the ransomware, but they said that for this new version the tool do not work. According to Bloomberg 100GB was stolen in just two hours. This is a remarkable event to be considered as the largest and successful act of cyberwarfare.
Finally we need to develop new systems and new tecnologies as this could be the starting of a surge of new threat actors and new attacks that can not be stopped by the actual protection solutions.
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About the author Luis Nakamoto_
Luis Nakamoto is a Computer Science student of Cryptology and an enthusiastic of information security having participated in groups like Comissão Especial de Direito Digital e Compliance (OAB/SP) and CCBS (Consciência Cibernética Brasil) as a researcher in new technologies related to ethical hacking, forensics and reverse
engineering. Also, a prolific and compulsive writer participating as a Redactor to Portal Tic from Sebrae Nacional.
Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Critical Infrastructure)