Many cybersecurity considerations go into running the United States’ most crucial power grids. Without the right protection, we could see entire cities lose electricity, internet connections corrupted, and an overall crisis of national importance.
That’s why many professionals work endlessly to protect the country from these attacks on digital operations of our nation’s most important utilities. Despite all of these protections, a recent hack of the Colonial Pipeline’s data pipeline proved to be an immediate detriment to citizens and the government’s peace of mind.
A criminal cybersecurity ring decided to hack the Colonial Pipeline’s digital operations in order to hold corporate oil data for a ransom. This act worked in ways bigger than what the cybercriminals had originally intended. While the data proved to be valuable to them, a larger impact was the complete shutdown of the pipeline’s operations. Offlining the pipeline wasn’t the goal, but it did make all of America take notice.
Even if you didn’t check the news, you would have noticed on the Eastern side of the United States at the pump. In particular, many gas pumps ran out of gasoline because of the shutdown. For those who still had gasoline, prices shot up as demand rose alongside a dwindling supply.
DarkSide, the ransomware group that targeted the Colonial Pipeline, shares a lot in common with other cybersecurity attack groups that rose in activity during 2020. The group isn’t tied to a foreign government but does operate outside of the United States. The real surprise here was that the data side of the Colonial Pipeline was connected to the pipeline’s functions. That’s a huge red flag for industries operating with cloud technology for everyday operations.
What We Can Learn from the Colonial Pipeline Hack for Cloud Computing
When the pipeline was shut down to protect against further data breaches, it took hours, not days, to see the impact at the pump. The Department of Energy immediately assessed the situation and saw that a mere week of shutdowns at the pipeline could dramatically impact the country’s transportation and security procedures. Not to mention, gasoline distribution in places like refineries and chemical factories would need to shut down too if the breach forced operations to cease for too long.
Believe it or not, the long lines at the gas pumps and higher prices for some were the least of the country’s worries. Yes, gas prices anger citizens, but the connection between operations that utilize digital solutions and the threat of cyberattacks was brought to the forefront of every federal department’s minds in a new and alarming way.
Industries like the oil industry are essential to many different parts of the country’s functions. The hack might end up proving to be a national reminder that cloud security isn’t just about keeping data safe. The increasingly cyber-minded way we approach everything from manufacturing to transportation opens up new opportunities as well as new risks. While the stakes might be lower for a small office using cloud computing services, the threats do still exist in these contained spaces.
Data breaches on the rise during 2020 won’t cease just because the country returns to a new normal post-pandemic. In fact, a return to revenue for many sectors will mean new investments in the cloud. With new entrances to the cloud brings too many cybersecurity considerations to count. The lessons of the Colonial Pipeline are clear: keep in mind how you utilize cloud computing and other digital solutions when it comes to data and its connection to your everyday operations.
When it comes to figuring out how to maximize your protection in the cloud, don’t be afraid to talk with your cloud services provider about the best way to manage and organize your solutions to protect your organization or business. Reach out with questions for obtaining cloud services or optimizing how they’re utilized for your organization today.