Cyberattacks are big business for computer crooks. In May, Russian cybercriminals crept into the computer-controlled Colonial Pipeline, which pushes petrol for jets and vehicles between Houston, Texas, through the South, and up to New Jersey.
The company itself shut the pipeline down and paid $4.4 million in bitcoin to the hackers, of which $2.3 million was later recovered by federal law enforcement agencies.
In six days, as many 80% of gas stations in the South and Southeast, including Central Virginia, were out of fuel. Panicked people pumped gas into a variety of containers from stock watering tanks to plastic grocery bags.
Some attacks can pose a health danger. In February, a hacker increased the amount of sodium hydroxide – lye – in Oldsmar, Florida’s water treatment system. The move could have had drastic health consequences to customers, but a worker spotted the adjustment and immediately reversed it.
Other attacks cost business big money. When Target Stores computer systems were hacked on Black Friday 2013, more than 110 million customers had their credit card numbers, associated personal identification numbers and even emails and addresses scooped up by hackers.
The data breach cost the company more than $300 million, officials estimated, not including $90 million that was covered by insurance.