The Colonial Pipeline faced a ransomware attack last week that caused it to shutdown operations. This pipeline supplies fuel to gas stations in many states across the East Coast of the United States, so its shutdown meant that many stations would begin to run low on gas or run out entirely.
According to data collected by the app GasBuddy, this shortage has impacted 11 states including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The news of the attack and potential gas shortages quickly put consumers into a frenzy, which only worsened the scenario. It led to many consumers panic-buying— buying up a much larger supply of gas than they actually needed, which in turn left some gas stations completely empty.
CNN reports that the pipeline’s operations were restarted on Wednesday, but it could still take days or weeks to replenish gas amounts in gas stations that experienced shortages. The pipeline only flows at 5 miles an hour, and it is 5,500 miles long. Despite consumer dismay, refilling gas stations will certainly take some time.
As for the cyber attack that caused the shutdown? The FBI has stated that a Russian based hacker group called the “DarkSide” was responsible. The group sought a monetary ransom from Colonial Pipeline. The company did pay the ransom, roughly $5 million, to the hacker group hours after the attack.
President Joe Biden has reassured Americans that the shortage will pass quickly, and urged them not to panic as he gave updates to the public on Thursday. According to ABC News, President Biden also signed an executive order to prevent similar cyber attacks from occuring in the future.