Cyberattack on US pipeline could affect gas prices

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A gasoline station attendant pumps diesel into a car at a filling station on March 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A cyberattack on a vital U.S. pipeline is threatening to send gas prices skyrocketing across the country.

The Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut down the pipeline after it was hit by a ransomware attack, in which hackers from a cyber-criminal gang called DarkSide, infiltrated their network, seized data and locked up computer systems.

“This is one of my worst nightmares comes to light,” said cyber security expert Theresa Payton, with Fortalice Solutions.

The 5,500-mile system carries gasoline and diesel from Texas to states throughout the Southeast and up to New York harbor. Over the weekend, the national average price of gas climbed above $3 per gallon.

However, according to AAA, the attack shouldn’t impact gas prices in Tampa and throughout Florida, since the state isn’t largely reliant on the system.

But AAA leaders warn prices may increase due to supply needs in other areas of the country.

The Department of Energy is leading the federal response to the incident. Homeland Security and the FBI are also involved.

“It’s an all hands on deck effort right now. And we are working closely with the company, state and local officials to, you know, make sure that hey get back up to normal operations,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

As of Monday morning, there was no clear timeline for when they would be able to restore the system.

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