“An Eighth-Grader Could Have Hacked” The Koch-Owned Colonial Pipeline

Operators of the Colonial pipeline started resuming operations Wednesday evening, but cautioned that the supply chain would take “a few days” to restore and that some markets will continue to experience “service interruptions.” The panic sparked by fuel shortages and skyrocketing prices throughout the East Coast — according to GasBuddy, nearly 7 out of 10 gas stations in North Carolina, and about half in Virginia and South Carolina, were out of gas Wednesday evening — highlighted the weakness of an aging U.S. energy infrastructure unable to tackle 21st-century threats, including those predicted months in advance.

Koch Industries, which was established 59 years ago as a joint venture by nine oil companies, now owns the majority of the business.

An outside audit of the Colonial Pipeline’s cyberattack defenses, delivered to the company more than three years ago, described “atrocious” information management practices and “a patchwork of poorly connected and secured systems,” its author told the AP. “We found glaring deficiencies and big problems,” said Robert F. Smallwood, whose firm prepared an 89-page report after a six-month audit. “I mean, an eighth-grader could have hacked into that system.” Colonial Pipeline operators have been seeking to hire a cybersecurity manager for more than a month, with 32 applicants on LinkedIn.

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