Colonial pipeline CEO apologizes for cyberattack before Senate panel

The chief executive officer of the pipeline company affected by a ransomware attack last month apologized to a U.S. Senate panel for the event that disabled the East Coast’s flow of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel while protecting his company’s response and providing tips for future hacking victims.

“We are deeply sorry for the impact that this attack had, but are also heartened by the resilience of our country and of our company,” Colonial Pipeline Co. CEO Joseph Blount Jr. said during Tuesday’s hearing.

Blount’s appearance in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee comes as Congress prepares its response to the hack, which impacted 45% of the East Coast’s fuel supply, leading to an increase in gasoline prices and triggering shortages at filling stations after the company closed down the almost 5,500-mile pipeline on May 7.

The senators’ questions for Blount were direct but relatively considerate in nature. Blount was remorseful but sometimes vague on information about the company’s cybersecurity protections. 

When questioned regarding Colonial’s cybersecurity budget, for instance, he responded by saying that they had spent $200 million on information technology in the past five years without particularly telling about how much was for defending against hacks.

Blount said that controlling the threat and quickly communicating with the government were among some of the most significant lessons he learned from the episode.