Major US pipeline shut by ransomware attack

The largest fuel pipeline system in the United States was forced to shut down its entire network after a ransomware attack, the operating company said in a statement Saturday.

The Colonial Pipeline Company ships gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous East Coast through 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline, serving 50 million consumers.

It said it had been "the victim of a cybersecurity attack" which involved ransomware -- attacks that encrypt computer systems and seek to extract payments from operators.

"In response, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems," it said.

"A leading, third-party cybersecurity firm was engaged, and they have launched an investigation into the nature and scope of this incident, which is ongoing. We have contacted law enforcement and other federal agencies," the statement continued.