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Four gas pipeline operators in the U.S. have had to shut down their communications systems after breakdowns caused by cyberattacks, fueling fear of more hostile cyberactivity to come.
Energy Transfer Partners, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, and a unit of Chesapeake utilities Corp. reported communications system breakdowns earlier this week and now a fourth pipeline operator, Oneok, has joined them, saying it had shut down its system as a precaution after reports of a third-party provider being targeted by cybercriminals.
The Department of Homeland Security is still collecting data on the occurrences, Bloomberg reports.
The third-party provider that two of the companies affected identified as their partner, Latitude Technologies, said it did not believe any customer data had been compromised in the attack, but was still investigating matters. Latitude Technologies, a unit of Energy Services Group, is a provider for Energy Transfer Partners and Eastern Shore Natural Gas—the Chesapeake Gas unit.
To date, Energy Partners’ and Eastern Shore’s communications are up and running again, with Energy Partners saying there was no other impact on its business beyond the temporary suspension of the system that customers use to communicate with the pipeline operators.
Commenting on the events, the president of the North American Energy Standards Board, Rae McQuade, said that they were “not operationally serious in the sense that it’s stopping the natural gas from moving, but it is serious because it’s causing these companies to use workarounds for communication.”
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Last month, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI released a report, according to which Moscow orchestrated cyberattacks on the U.S. electric grid and other infrastructure targets. With regard to the pipeline communication systems attacks, the DHS has not made any comment yet.
Cybersecurity experts have been warning for a while that the global cyber landscape will only continue to become riskier, with cyberattacks firmly on the rise alongside the growing digitalization of all industries.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.