BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The impacts have been felt all over the state.
The Marathon gas station on Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore has been out of fuel since last week.READ MORE: Global Food To Open First Area Location In Woodlawn In Fall
Experts say this kind of ransomware attack is nothing new, but just another example highlighting cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Drivers are still finding dried-up gas pumps.
“It was crazy. Everyone was lined up,” motorist Keon Clayton said.
Driver Piyumi Nilaweera was still in disbelief.
“The other day I went to get gas and they didn’t have regular, so it wasn’t working at all,” Nilaweera said. “Yeah, I was having trouble. It’s crazy; I didn’t think it would ever happen.”
The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline by a group called Darkside shut down a vital artery used to get gas and jet fuel to nearly 45 percent of the East Coast.
Anupam Joshi, director of the Center for Cyber Security at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said groups like this run like any other business.
“I mean, these are transnational criminal gangs running it like if it was a Subway franchise or a McDonald’s franchise,” he said.
Drivers said they believe it to be a security issue.
“I don’t understand that. Why aren’t their security systems better,” a woman named Kim asked.
Said Clayton: “It’s definitely a national security issue.”READ MORE: Police: Vehicle Catches Fire After Crashing Into Building In Howard County
On Wednesday, Colonial Pipeline said it was fully up and running again after multiple sources tell CBS News the company paid a ransom of several million dollars.
Despite that, officials warned it would take days for the fuel supply to catch up to demand and return to normal.
Gas Buddy reports 25 percent of the state’s gas stations are empty.
“It felt like a world-ending situation. I couldn’t believe it,” Clayton said.
Officials urge people to tap the breaks on panic buying gas.
A ransomware attack typically involves tricking employees into downloading what appears to be an email attachment or a software update, then taking over the system, Joshi said.
“They encrypt the data on your disk, and then they want money so you can recover that data,” he said.
The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack is the latest example of how vulnerable these targets are, Joshi said. Hospitals and even city governments like Baltimore’s have been crippled by these kinds of attacks.
The hackers are getting smarter and the risks are always changing, Joshi said. The best way to protect yourself from falling victim is to be prepared.
“So educating your users to be careful about these, not clicking on things, keeping your computers updated,” he said.
The Exxon gas station nearby on Cold Spring Lane was out of gas last week, but they since have replenished their fuel. The Marathon gas station owner said he does not know when he’ll be getting his next fuel shipment.MORE NEWS: Howard County Police Asking For Public Assistance To Identify Bank Robbery Suspect, $2.5K Reward Offered