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The Spill: The DarkSide of Business

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By:  |  May 17, 2021  |    687 Words

(Photo by Iain McGuinness/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Colonial Pipeline Debacle

On May 8, a ransomware attack by Russian hacking group “DarkSide” forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down its entire network of 5,500 miles of pipeline. This caused fuel shortages, price increases, and panic buying.

Ransomware is extortion software used to block access to a computer system. Hackers demand a fee – most often a cryptocurrency — to restore computer systems.

The Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline operates the largest refined-products pipeline in the U.S. It delivers 45% of all the fuel consumed on the East Coast from Houston, TX to New Jersey.  The shutdown affected 17 states, causing enough concern for the Department of Transportation to declare a regional state of emergency for the southeastern seaboard.

DarkSide is an organized Russian criminal group that historically targets and attacks for-profit companies in English-speaking countries. Colonial Pipeline received a ransom demand for 100 gigabytes of data, presumably the company’s private information. The company allegedly paid nearly $5 Million in ransom to keep their business information confidential.

President Biden has assured the American people that no real gas shortages will be experienced, and he said he would put more federal support into education to train the next generation of workers to stop malware cyber-attacks in the future. The president also warned: “And I also want to say something to the gas stations: Do not — I repeat, do not try to take advantage of consumers during this time.”

It may be days until the flow of fuel is back to normal.

The Struggle Between Israel and Hamas Heats Up

War may be coming to the Holy Land as the conflict between Hamas and Israel continues without either side wanting to call a truce. Hamas is the Palestinian militant group in charge of Gaza: A self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Egypt and Israel and has been the site of a turf war for many years. The Gaza Strip, as it is called, is 25 miles long and six miles wide and was originally a part of the British-ruled Palestine Mandate. That all changed in 1948 when the nation of Israel was created.

This latest engagement is the fourth round of armed conflict between Israel and Hamas since 2008, and violence against both sides is escalating. Hamas has launched more than 100 rockets just this last Sunday, and Israel bombed the home of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader since 2017, who was reported to be unhurt by the airstrike.

The Holy Land consists of Israel, Palestinian territories, parts of Jordan, and Lebanon. It’s called the Holy Land because Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe the land is sacred.

Hamas and Israel have fought one another in three wars and several more minor battles and skirmishes. So far, the worst fighting was done during the 2014 war, which lasted for 50 days.

Are Cats Chicago’s Super-Heroes? Meow

The notorious Rat Capital of America, also known as Chicago, Illinois, may soon be the Cat Capital as thousands of feral felines are being released on the rodent-inhabited streets. It’s called the “Cats at Work” program; this city plan is a partnership with the Treehouse Humane Society, which insists this program is much better than the likely alternative for the cats: euthanasia.

Not all vaccinated, vetted, and neutered cats do well in a home environment. Instead of staying in shelters or being put down, these cats are getting the job done. These hard-working felines are cared for and managed for their entire lives – by both the Treehouse folks and Cook County. Program Manager Sarah Liss told reporters that “by placing them in Cats at Work colonies, we’re able to make sure they’re living their best lives.”

Not only do cats catch and eat rats and mice, but by simply being there and emitting pheromones, the furballs are a natural deterrent to rodents – meaning rats will go elsewhere to colonize.

Orkin’s pest control company ranks American cities in areas of infestations by roaches, rats, and creepy crawly things and gave Chicago the dubious honor for the sixth consecutive year. Los Angeles and New York City completed the rat-trifecta in terms of volume.

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