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Sen. Mark Warner: Colonial Pipeline Attack ‘Critical Threat’


In a television interview to be aired Sunday with Full Court Press’ host Greta Van Susteren, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the recent hack and shut down of the Colonial Pipeline displayed a ‘critical threat’ that needs to be addressed by Congress.

“This is a critical, critical threat,” Warner said in the interview. “I think that the signs of those gas lines brought it home to the American people in a very real way.”

The Colonial Pipeline, which runs from Texas to New Jersey and carries about half of the oil and gas used in that part of the country daily, had to be shut down earlier this week after a cyber-attack by the Russian group called Darkside, the FBI said in a statement May 10.

According to the company, the pipeline carries 100 million gallons of fuel each day and is the largest refined oil products in the nation.

The disruption in the pipeline caused many gasoline stations to run out of fuel, creating long lines in several states including Virginia and Georgia with the price of a gallon of gas going as high as $6.99, according to published reports.

Colonial officials said the pipeline, which had to be opened in small sections manually this week, was reopened on Thursday, and full service restored by the end of the weekend.

Darkside used what is known as a “ransomware” attack to shut down the major U.S. pipeline.

According to the McAfee computer security website, ransomware is defined as: “malware that employs encryption to hold a victim’s information at ransom. A user or organization’s critical data is encrypted so that they cannot access files, databases, or applications. A ransom is then demanded to provide access. Ransomware is often designed to spread across a network and target database and file servers and can thus quickly paralyze an entire organization.”

Although denied by the company, some published news reports said the company paid the hackers some $5 million “within hours” of the attack.

In the interview, Warner said that whether connected to a foreign government or not, actors from both China and Russia were watching the incident “play out” to see the kind of “chaos” an attack like this could cause for nation.

“We are so much more technologically dependent, our economy is, than say the Russians or Chinese,” Warner said during the interview. “You shut down Moscow for 24 hours, you got a problem. We shut down New York for 24 hours, you got a crisis.”

He said there is bipartisan support to get something done in his intelligence committee and that the business community is changing their position on reporting such incidents as long as they can have some “confidentiality and immunity.”

“What really concerns me is, this is an example of what happens with simply a single ransomware attack against a single country,” he said. “Thirty-five percent of the country (going) without gasoline for a few days.”

Warner’s interview with Van Susteren on Full Court Press is scheduled to be broadcast Sunday in all 94 Gray Television markets and syndicated in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, covering 80 percent of the country.

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