The latest on the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack

Former Homeland Security official Elizabeth Neumann explains the wide-ranging effects the ransomware attack on fuel supply and gas prices.
4:57 | 05/13/21

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Transcript for The latest on the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack
The colonial pipeline slowly resuming operations after last week's cyberattack with oil prices falling more than 2% this morning. The shutdown of the largest refined products pipeline in the country, the stretch is over 5,000 miles from Texas to new Jersey, resulted in fuel shortages and panic buying at gas stations across the southeastern part of the country. Here to discuss the pipeline attack and further attacks on our nation's infrastructure I former secretary for homeland security, Elizabeth Neumann. Thank you for being with U I'm going to be honest here, yesterday I was asking how does this work? We're hearing about this ransomware, this organization potentially out of Russia and it's confusing to a lot of people, present party included, as to how it's actually happening. Hey, Amy. That is a great question. Ransomware is kind of new but the name kind of tells you what this is all about. It's final extortion. So even if you had good cyberhygiene, and you had the backups to be able to restore your data which is one of the recommendations, have that backup so you don't have to pay the ransom, the threat to release data that might need to be protected for some reason, that is an added incentive to the corporation, to the victim to have to pay that ransom. So this is a financial cyber crime. It is mostly done for money. It is growing and it is increasingly becoming a national security and public safety threat. What really is the level of sophistication, the level of resources that a group like dark side is this cyber crime, this gang, the name here, what level of sophistication do you have to have and resources do you have to have to pull off something like this? Darkside is sophisticated. They are what we would consider a persistent threat actor. They're going to try multiple routes. They're going to target multiple different companies and see which one is the weakest. I think there's a lot more we can be doing with our critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure tends to be owned by either state or local governments or by the private sector, but those utilities, things like pipelines and water and our transportation systems, you know, we the taxpayer pay for a lot of those so we tend to want the budgets to be as small as possible so our taxes are as small as possible. That doesn't bode well for security. We really do need to take a hard look at building resilience into our infrastructure, and making sure our infrastructure has strong cybersecurity so that we don't end up with situations like this, where literally our lives are disrupted or worse could happen if we don't take this as the warning sign that it is. With everything you said and the agenda we believe to be the case for dark side and I'm sure there are plenty of other organizations out there trying to do the same thing, talking about things like gas, water, electricity, things we assume are going to be there that would be more than disruptive, it would be catastrophic if we were to lose control over those things. How vulnerable are we? Can you really give us a basic sense of as a nation with our private industry, and through our government properties, how vulnerable are we? Yeah. Sadly, we are pretty vulnerable. The conversation around critical infrastructure has been ongoing for I think we're probably into our third decade at this point. Really spun out post-9/11, this idea we need to physically protect and in the late we started focussing more and more on the cyber aspect of protecting our critical infrastructure because more of these systems are being digitized. Things that used to be manually operated are now being operated by computers and that, of course, creates vulnerability. We saw the first example in the real world of a cyberattack being able to affect critical infrastructure in 2015 in Ukraine. They took out power for about 230,000 people for a couple of hours. It was really the first known instance of a cyberattack affecting critical infrastructure, and ever since then, it had been warned that it could happen, but once that did happen, once that barrier was broken, cyber experts have been warning that this will be happening. It's just a matter of when. The ransomware piece of this is more criminal as opposed to perhaps a nation state attacking and trying to take out our infrastructure. So if we were going to have something like this happen, I would rather see it as a cyber crime as opposed to a hostile nation state attack. Because if a nation state were to have attacked us intentionally, the destruction would probably be much more severe because they have significant capabilities and we are vulnerable, and we have a lot of work to do. Former assistant secretary for homeland security, Elizabeth Neumann, thank you so much for being with us today. Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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