On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was joined by Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to speak on the subject of “the most significant and successful attack on energy infrastructure we know of in the United States,” the cyberattack which was launched on the Colonial Pipeline — the largest refined products pipeline in the country — last week.
“On Friday evening, May 7th, Colonial Pipeline reported that its pipeline system had been subject to a ransomware cyberattack. Colonial chose to shut down its pipeline operations as a precautionary measure and to ensure that the ransomware could not migrate from business computer systems to those that control and operate the pipeline. We’ve been in ongoing contact with Colonial, and the President continues to be regularly briefed on the incident and our work,” Sherwood-Randall said during the briefing.
“Colonial is currently working with its private cybersecurity consultants to assess potential damage and to determine when it is safe to bring the pipeline back online. Thus far, Colonial has told us that it has not suffered damage and can be brought back online relatively quickly, but that safety is a priority given that it has never before taken the entire pipeline down,” Sherwood-Randall continued.
The Homeland Security advisor proceeded to explain that the White House “convened an interagency team” in response to the shutdown, which included the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Defense, and “other agencies.”
Later, Sherwood-Randall addressed growing concerns of gas shortages.
“Right now, there is not a supply shortage,” Sherwood-Randall stated. “We are preparing for multiple possible contingencies — because that’s our job, especially on the Homeland Security team — and considering what additional steps may be useful to mitigate any potential disruptions to supply.”
Sherwood-Randall concluded by noting that the privatization of such infrastructure is a point of weakness.
“This weekend’s events put the spotlight on the fact that our nation’s critical infrastructure is largely owned and operated by private-sector companies,” Sherwood-Randall argued. “When those companies are attacked, they serve as the first line of defense, and we depend on the effectiveness of their defenses.”
“To improve the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure, the Biden administration has already launched a high-priority initiative to collaborate with our private-sector partners to harden our defenses and to build our nation’s resilience,” Sherwood-Randall added.
As The Daily Wire noted this weekend, “if the subsequent outage [following the cyberattack] is not corrected within days, the eastern half of the United States, which reportedly receives 45% of fuel from the pipeline, could see a surge in gas, oil, and diesel prices.”
“Oil analyst Andy Lipow said if the shutdown lasted five or six days, price hikes would result, most notably affecting the supply of jet fuel major airports needed to operate,” The Daily Wire added.