Gas concerns in Colorado following cyber hack on the Colonial Pipeline

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Panic buying of gas is happening in the southeast after a cyber hack on the Colonial Pipeline. It restarted operations around 3 p.m. MST, but it will not be fully functional immediately. Many viewers asked FOX21 News how this would affect Coloradans at the pump.

Folks in Colorado Springs concerned prices at the pump will get even higher after the Colonial Pipeline was hacked on Friday, forcing the supply chain to shut down for days. The Colonial Pipeline is a critical part of the U.S. petroleum infrastructure, transporting around 2.5 million barrels per day of gasoline.

“I gotta eat, and gotta get to work, so I am blessed that I can do that, but yea, they are kind of high,” James Moore said. “We’ve been cooped up in the house for a year now, maybe people have some money saved up for gas, but it’s going to be a choppy road this summer.”

AAA Colorado said the state doesn’t use the Colonial Pipeline, so people won’t be digging into their wallets to pay more at the pumps due to the shutdown. So don’t worry, what happened on the east coast won’t cause lines at gas stations, huge price hikes, or gas stations to run out of fuel.

“In fact, gasoline and oil is flowing in and out of Colorado at the same healthy rate that they’ve been flowing in and out of Colorado for a decade,” AAA Regional Director of Public Affairs Skyler McKinley said.

It should be a warning to all businesses and individuals to invest in cyber security.

“I hope that every pipeline operator in America that this is a big wake-up call. Gasoline and oil are significant parts of our infrastructure,” McKinley added.

“This is a global criminal enterprise,” CEO of FIRMA I.T. Solutions Rodney Gullatte Jr. explained.

Gullatte is a certified ethical hacker and said ransomware is a problem that is getting more pervasive.

“It was a problem before COVID, during COVID, and it’s going to be a problem after COVID, especially if people don’t take it seriously,” Gullatte said.

Tips to avoid being the next victim is to have regular backups to store data offline.

“One computer could be the one that messes up your whole business. Or the fact that you didn’t train your employees not to open those email attachments that look phishy,” Gullatte explained.

A lot of this can be avoided if people take simple steps he said.

“One of the things you can do is making sure you have all different passwords for all of your online accounts and use two-factor authentications. Just those two tips will save you a lot of hurts,” Gullatte added.

If you can’t remember passwords, you can use a password-safe program such as Dashlane, LastPass, One password, etc. He also suggested lying on the secret question answers and keeping those answers in a safe place so you can remember. He said that over time people answer those questions on social media, and hackers can search for those answers online and then hack into people’s accounts with their secret question answers.

“So lie on those, say that your mother’s name is… use random upper and lower case numbers and symbols and keep track of all that in your password safe,” Gullatte said.

According to Gullatte, last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had a webinar with the Critical Instructor Security Industry which said 56% of companies pay the ransom. Of those who pay, only about 20% get their data back.

AAA expects gas prices in Colorado Springs to stay around $3.10 for the Memorial Holiday weekend.

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