Colonial Pipeline Hack Reveals Weaknesses in US Cybersecurity


“This is not like flicking on a light switch,” Mr. Biden said Thursday, noting that the 5,500-mile pipeline had never before been shut down.

For the administration, the event proved a perilous week in crisis management. Mr. Biden told aides, one recalled, that nothing could wreak political damage faster than television images of gas lines and rising prices, with the inevitable comparison to Jimmy Carter’s worse moments as president.

Mr. Biden feared that, unless the pipeline resumed operations, panic receded and price gouging was nipped in the bud, the situation would feed concerns that the economic recovery is still fragile and that inflation is rising.

Beyond the flurry of actions to get oil moving on trucks, trains and ships, Mr. Biden published a long-gestating executive order that, for the first time, seeks to mandate changes in cybersecurity.

And he suggested that he was willing to take steps that the Obama administration hesitated to take during the 2016 election hacks — direct action to strike back at the attackers.

“We’re also going to pursue a measure to disrupt their ability to operate,” Mr. Biden said, a line that seemed to hint that United States Cyber Command, the military’s cyberwarfare force, was being authorized to kick DarkSide off line, much as it did to another ransomware group in the fall ahead of the presidential election.

Hours later, the group’s internet sites went dark. By early Friday, DarkSide, and several other ransomware groups, including Babuk, which has hacked Washington D.C.’s police department, announced they were getting out of the game.

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