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Four US gas pipeline operators hit by cyberattacks

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World Pipelines,

Bloomberg is reporting that a total of four US gas pipeline operators have been victim of cyberattacks in the last week.

Four gas pipeline operators have had to shut down their communications systems after breakdowns caused by cyberattacks.

Energy Transfer Partners, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, and a unit of Chesapeake Utilities Corp. reported communications system breakdowns earlier this week and a fourth pipeline operator, Oneok, has joined them, saying it had shut down its system as a precaution after reports of a third-party provider being targeted by cybercriminals.

The Department of Homeland Security is still collecting data on the occurrences.

The third-party provider that two of the companies affected identified as their partner, Latitude Technologies, said it did not believe any customer data had been compromised in the attack, but was still investigating matters. Latitude Technologies, a unit of Energy Services Group, is a provider for Energy Transfer Partners and Eastern Shore Natural Gas—the Chesapeake Gas unit.

To date, Energy Partners’ and Eastern Shore’s communications are up and running again, with Energy Partners saying there was no other impact on its business beyond the temporary suspension of the system that customers use to communicate with the pipeline operators.

The attacks follow a US government warning in March that Russian hackers are conducting an assault on the US electric grid and other targets. Last month, Atlanta’s government was hit by a ransomware attack.

The electronic systems help pipeline customers communicate their needs with operators, using a computer-to-computer exchange of documents.

The shutdowns are “not operationally serious in the sense that it’s stopping the natural gas from moving, but it is serious because it’s causing these companies to use workarounds for communication,” said Rae McQuade, President of the North American Energy Standards Board in Houston, which is responsible for developing industry standards.

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