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Trump Ruined Cyber Defense, But GOP Blames Biden For Gas Line Hack

Photo by Orbital Joe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Colonial Pipeline announced that its East Coast gas line resumed operations around 5 pm ET on Wednesday evening. But the company cautioned that operations will ramp up for a few days before the line reaches full capacity.

Gas prices are up this week after a hacker attack shut down a major East Coast gas pipeline. Congressional Republicans are blaming the increased prices on President Joe Biden.

On May 8, the Colonial Pipeline Company announced it had been the victim of a cyberattack involving ransomware. The attack forced a shutdown of most of the privately held company's 5,500-mile East Coast pipeline, which ordinarily delivers 45% of the region's fuel and runs from Houston to New York. Panic-buying since the announcement has resulted in gas stations running out of fuel and the highest gas prices in six years.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a group of hackers with ties to Russia is behind the attacks, though there is no evidence they are acting on behalf of any government. The group, DarkSide, has a history of extorting money after hacking into company computer systems in the United States and Europe.

Rather than blame the problems on the group behind the attack or inadequate security at Colonial Pipeline, several Republican lawmakers have blamed the shutdown and the gas price spikes on Biden and cited it as evidence to condemn his presidency.

"Increased taxes, the largest increase in inflation since the '08 Obama jobless economy, and skyrocketing gas, energy, and household goods prices," accusedSen. Todd Young of Indiana on Wednesday. "American workers and families are being pummeled by the Biden economy."

"Highest gas prices in 6 years," tweeted Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. "Working families cannot afford Joe Biden's America."

"The people of NC-11 are feeling the effects of Biden's utter incompetence as they see gas prices soar and inflation loom," complained Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. "Biden is hurting our people. I will fight for a better life for my neighbors every day. Enough is enough."

"Skyrocketing gas prices," wrote Alabama Rep. Barry Moore. "This is Joe Biden's America."

"Lines around city blocks for a gallon of gas," said Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson. "By any objective measure, Biden's first 100 days have been a disaster."

"In Joe Biden's America you can't get gas or a job," added Colorado Rep. Ken Buck.

"In the 1970's, during the last major gas shortage, Joe Biden was already in government," said Rep. Lauren Boebert, also of Colorado.

While Republican lawmakers are busy tweeting, the Biden administration saysthe attack "has triggered a comprehensive federal response focused on securing critical energy supply chains." This includes creating an interagency response group, temporarily waiving fuel standards, giving emergency safety waivers to those transporting fuel, and providing security guidance for other infrastructure.

Colonial Pipeline Company praised the White House on Tuesday for "leadership and collaboration in resolving this matter."

Ransomware attacks predate Biden's 112-day-old administration, but few, if any, GOP lawmakers attacked Donald Trump for his handling of cybersecurity.

Experts say Trump not only failed to take the problem seriously, but actually made things worse. "Much of the work done … [during the Trump administration] was weakened by a president who didn't prioritize cyber-issues and who, in many cases, actively undercut any actions or messaging against our adversaries," Chris Painter, who coordinated cyber operations at the State Department under President Barack Obama, told the Washington Post in December.

Biden announced Monday that his administration will do everything possible to "disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals" and "will be pursuing a global effort of ransomware attacks by transnational criminals who often use global money-laundering networks to carry them out."

But, Biden noted, much of the nation's vital infrastructure "is privately owned and managed, like Colonial," and those "private entities are making their own determination on cybersecurity."

The president added, "So to jumpstart greater private-sector investment in cybersecurity, we launched a new public-private initiative in April. It begins with a 100-day sprint to improve cybersecurity in the electric sector, and we'll follow that with similar initiatives in natural gas pipelines, water, and other sectors."

Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee used the exposure by hackers of the vulnerability of one company to claim that America needs another oil pipeline.

"America is facing a gas shortage," Blackburn tweeted on Wednesday. "We need to get the Colonial pipeline back to work, and the Keystone pipeline back to construction."

Unlike the Colonial Pipeline, the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline would not transport oil to Americans; it would be used by a Canadian company to transfer tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Most of that refined oil would then likely be exported overseas.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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