Congress

Colonial Pipeline Hack Was ‘Wakeup Call' on U.S. Cyber Vulnerability, Buttigieg Says

Gerry Broome | Reuters
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline has been a "wakeup call" for U.S. cybersecurity vulnerability.
  • Colonial is still struggling with a cybersecurity attack that forced its entire system offline Friday and triggered widespread fuel shortages across the Southeast.
  • Buttigieg's remarks come a day after President Biden signed an executive order to help strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday the ransomware attack on the operator of the country's largest fuel pipeline has been a "wakeup call" for U.S. cybersecurity vulnerability.

Colonial Pipeline is still struggling with a cybersecurity attack that forced its entire system offline last Friday and triggered widespread fuel shortages in the Southeast. The company restarted operations Wednesday afternoon but said the system won't return to normal for several days.

"This has been a wakeup call on how actors anywhere in the world can impact us right here at home," Buttigieg said during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box." He added that the all-of-government response to the hack has "really paid off."

Buttigieg's remarks came a day after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to help strengthen U.S. cybersecurity defenses.

The president's order calls on the federal government and private sector to work together to combat "persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns" that threaten the U.S.

The Department of Energy has led the federal response to the attack in coordination with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

Buttigieg said the response has included weight limit waivers for tanker trucks to help ease shortage concerns, as well as increased flexibility in allowing workers to conduct manual inspections.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Thursday morning that Colonial's pipeline restart "went well overnight."

"This should mean things will return to normal by the end of the weekend," Granholm wrote in a tweet.

Colonial's shutdown led to panic buying in some Southeastern states and pushed the national average for a gallon of gas above $3 for the first time since 2014.

Colonial shut off its system as a proactive measure after falling victim to the attack by a cyber criminal group known as DarkSide. The company's pipeline spans 5,500 miles from Houston to New Jersey and carries almost half of the fuel supply on the East Coast, including gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil and jet fuel.

Gas outages continue to hit the Southeast, with more more than half of stations in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia without fuel, according to data Thursday from GasBuddy.

— CNBC's Pippa Stevens contributed reporting

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