US pipeline giant shuts down major fuel line following cyberattack

It's not yet clear who's responsible.

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Colonial Pipeline tanks
Colonial Pipeline

A cyberattack just led to a significant disruption of American infrastructure. Reuters reports that industry giant Colonial Pipeline has temporarily shut down all its fuel line operations and parts of its network after learning of a breach that compromised "some of [its] IT systems."

The company said it was already in the midst of returning to normal, but the operator handles about 45 percent of the US East Coast's fuel supply — this is a shutdown that will affect many people and businesses that need gas, oil, and diesel. There was no estimated timing for a full recovery.

Colonial didn't outline the nature of the attack or try to identify who might be responsible. The company has already tapped an unnamed "leading" cybersecurity firm to investigate, and is talking to law enforcement as well as federal agencies.

This isn't necessarily a state-backed attack. Colonial could be the victim of a ransomware campaign, for instance. This comes mere months after the SolarWinds hack, however, and it's no secret that countries like Russia have targeted US infrastructure in the past. While this could just be a high-profile target for a relatively pedestrian cybercriminal hack, a more coordinated, state-backed effort would raise more than a few alarms.

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