Cyberattack Shuts Down US Pipeline

An international hacker group has attacked the computer systems of an important US fuel pipeline. The cyberattack forced operators to shut down most of the systems of the pipeline. It is the largest attack on existing infrastructure in US history.

Colonial Pipeline pumps 2.5 million barrels of fuel from the Houston to the eastern coast every day. It supplies the major population centers and airports.

According to the FBI, the relatively new hacker group DarkSide is responsible for the attack. It is reported to be Russian-operated but has no connections to the Russian government. Days after the attack, Colonial Pipeline confirmed that it had paid $4.4 million in ransom money to unlock the pipeline. As a result of the attack, panic-buying led to gas shortages in many areas of the eastern coast.

Ransomware attacks have been increasing steadily for some time. 2020 was the worst year in the history of cyberattacks.

Authorities are concerned about how vulnerable American infrastructure is. Especially since the pandemic started, more and more workers have been working from home, making it easier for hackers to get into the systems.


  • according to = as said by …
  • attack = here: to put bad code into a computer system, so that it doesn’t work anymore
  • authorities = people who are in charge of an organization
  • barrel = unit to measure oil = 159 liters
  • concerned = worried
  • confirm = to say that something is true
  • connection = link, tie
  • cyberattack = to use the Internet to get into a computer system and damage it
  • force = to make someone do something
  • fuel = here: gasoline or diesel
  • increase = to go up
  • infrastructure = important systems that a country needs, like, roads, railways, bridges, pipelines etc…
  • major = important
  • panic-buying = when people buy more things, because they think there won’t be enough in the future
  • pandemic = disease that affects people in many parts of the world
  • population centers = cities and areas in which many people live
  • ransom money = money that is paid to a hacker group to make the computer systems work again
  • ransomware = software that someone puts into your computer so that it doesn’t work the way it should; the attacker demands money to unlock it
  • responsible = here: to carry out
  • shortage = not enough of something
  • shut down = stop from working
  • supply = to bring from one place to another
  • unlock = to make something work again
  • vulnerable = weak; can easily be damaged