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In the wake of a cyber attack last week that disrupted operations of a 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline, the infrastructure reportedly supplying nearly half of the fuel for the East Coast of the United States had to shut down, but former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi noted that the suspected perpetrator—the Russian-based criminal group, DarkSide—pulled off a fairly "rudimentary" hack.
“Imagine if there was a sophisticated nation state actor that decided to pull out all the stops and defeat sophisticated security countermeasures, we'd be in big trouble,” Figluizzi, a national security contributor for NBC News, noted on the latest episode of Law&Crime’s “Objections.”
With a simple ransomware attack, DarkSide reportedly got the pipeline owner to cough up $5 million in extortion money, but not before its attack sparked shortages at gas stations throughout the region as panicked consumers purchased fuel that they feared would run dry.
Having led the bureau’s counterintelligence division and served as an agent for 25 years, Figliuzzi warned that is just an example of what could happen.
“The dirty little secret is, the nation states are already telling us they can do this,” Figliuzzi said. “Whether it's China, Iran, North Korea or Russia, we have seen them peek into some of the scariest places you can imagine—hydroelectric dams, power grids, traffic, air traffic control, 911 systems, credit card payment systems, you name it. They have waved ‘Hello,’ in those networks.”
Figliuzzi, author of “The FBI Way,” is the host of the upcoming podcast “The Bureau.”