With RI’s gas prices up 5 cents, the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack is felt at the pump

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The FBI has linked the cyber hack of the Colonial Oil Pipeline to a criminal gang that could have ties to the Russian government.

The Colonial Pipeline has been offline since Friday and transports gasoline and other fuel through 10 states between Texas and New Jersey. It delivers roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company.

The FBI identified the ransomware belongs to a notorious group that has infected other computer systems previously, known as DarkSide.

DarkSide cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity. The FBI has investigated this ransomware variant since October 2020.

So far, industry officials say there’s an adequate supply of fuel and no shortage has been reported, yet AAA says Rhode Island’s average price is up five cents this week, and Massachusetts is up six cents.

By comparison, this time last year gas prices were almost a dollar less.

Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin, who chairs a committee on cybersecurity, called the attack “troubling.”

“In many ways, it’s one of the most serious cyberattacks and most costly cyberattacks in our country’s history,” Langevin said.

“This is the type of thing I’ve feared, and have feared for many years, is we start seeing cyber attacks on critical infrastructure,” he said. “That’s where the most damage can be done, and it can not only impact our day-to-day lives but have a devastating impact on our economy.”

The longer the pipeline is off, the more of an impact will be seen. The company hopes to have service mostly restored by the end of the week.

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