In recent weeks, cybersecurity has become a hot button topic amid high profile attacks on a utility and a food company. JBS, the world's largest meat processor, was taken off line following an attack, which happened less than a month after the Colonial Pipeline attack shuttered oil operations on the East Coast for five straight days. For the energy industry, a lack of oversight paired with networked IT systems make pipelines especially vulnerable to hackers and ransomware attacks.

The government has long been aware of physical threats against pipelines and as a result, legislation has been adopted mandating regular inspections, increased security, updated safety guidances, and harsh penalties for attackers. But as the Government Accountability Office noted, cybersecurity was largely overlooked by the regulatory body largely in charge of pipelines, the Transportation Security Administration.

While steps have been taken to update public utilities, many private companies like Colonial do not even disclose when their systems have been breached, quietly paying off ransoms. Feds don't recommend that approach because it sets the precedent that hackers can win big with these attacks. In fact, last year, IBM found that the energy sector was the third-most targeted industry behind finance and manufacturing at first and second respectively.

Video produced by Christine Beldon and Sarah Kate Gervasoni. Article written by Lawrence Banton.

For the full story on why America’s gas pipelines are an easy target for hackers, click here or watch below.

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