Experts say Colonial Pipeline cyber hack calls for new approach to cybersecurity


MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Cybersecurity experts say panic gas buying and impatience at the pump can serve as a wake-up call for businesses to prioritize security structures.

Master of Engineering in Cybersecurity at Duke University, Dr. Jimmie Lenz, said businesses should prioritize newer and more innovative cybersecurity practices.

“We are picking out Colonial Pipeline today, but this could apply to anyone really down the road,” Dr. Lenz said.

The ransomware attack that forced Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, to shut down shows cybercriminals pose a threat to vulnerable infrastructure.

Experts say the hack is a high-profile example of what often goes on in healthcare systems, government sectors, schools, and other local companies.

On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order with intentions of strengthening U.S. cyber defense practices. The order creates a private-public partnership to protect the country against future attacks.

The executive order also includes data encryption, among other mandates, and establishes a cybersecurity safety review board.

Experts say a new approach to cybersecurity is needed and businesses should consider smarter techniques when it comes to access control and identity management.

Several legacy organizations, like Colonial Pipeline, are built on engineering structures, Dr. Lenz says have likely been around for decades.

“So, employing new things that are not going to immediately affect the bottom line but boy reputation, these can be golden putting these new practices into place,” Dr. Lenz said.

With more people working remotely during the pandemic, businesses are at a higher risk than ever before.

“In the case of Colonial Pipelines, you know they have all these people now because of the pandemic working from home. How are they getting into work? Well on the internet, are they more susceptible to human engineering and those kinds of things,” Dr. Lenz said.

Dr. Lenz explained the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack as a money-making proposition for the hackers, in this case, The Dark Side. They’re a business looking to advertise and says they’re likely to do this other places.

A hacker’s goal is typically persuading people to pay their ransom, then they’ll unlock the data, and they’ll move on to the next target.

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