Hackers Caused a Major Gas Shortage in The U.S.

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America has had its fair share of gas shortages: through our wartime eras, the ’70s, and more. But recently, hackers used software known as “ransomware” to blackmail the U.S.’s largest fuel pipeline. The ramifications of this cyber attack affected millions.
For everyday Americans, fuel can often seem like a monotonous subject. We don’t usually think about it, besides watching the prices and filling up our tanks when we see that they’re running low. Yet knowing the odds and ends of gas, especially considering the constant instability of the oil industry, could help you take care of your car and yourself in the long run.
A hacker looks at a computer screen
Even big companies are not safe from cyber-attacks | Twenty20

A major gas shortage

No industry is safe anymore from hackers, it seems. When Colonial Pipeline reported that a ransomware program had shut down its operations on the East Coast, this created a domino effect. Business Insider tells us that even though Colonial Pipeline supplies oil for 45% of the East Coast, the oil company had no choice but to halt production until the threat could be assessed. The ransom alone cost Colonial $5 million dollars in untraceable cryptocurrency to the hackers.
This might not spell the end of cyber attacks on large companies, either. As hackers become more creative, and technology allows for the development of new ways to extort organizations, the threat level will rise. But for consumers, this most recent gas shortage conveys a need to think more critically about fuel consumption.

Understanding gasoline ratings

If you’re like most folks, just understanding the three fuel grades (also known as octanes) can be the most detailed piece of knowledge you have of gasoline. But knowing the right fuel grade to use can be important.
Your gasoline-powered car will still run on any grade/octane whether it’s regular, mid, or premium. The only time that choosing a specific grade is when the vehicle is required to run on premium. If you aren’t sure if your car needs premium fuel, consult the owner’s manual for reference.

Storing gas long-term

It’s good practice to store gasoline in your garage or shed for emergencies (like gas shortages). Gas cans in the 1-5 gallon range are common. You might already use these cans to hold gas for yard tools like a lawnmower, weed trimmer, or gas-powered generator.
Buying fuel stabilizer for fuel kept long term is a smart choice. A stabilizer is a liquid additive that can be purchased at auto parts stores—it helps to keep gasoline from degrading during storage. Stored gas should be used within 6-12 months. Refill when possible to ensure you stay stocked up.
Stored gas should never be kept near sources of heat or pressure. Only use gas cans—never items like bags, tupperware, water bottles, or other inappropriate objects to store gasoline in. You risk exposing yourself to dangerous fumes or creating a fire hazard.

Navigating future gas shortages

Even with the growing popularity of EVs, don’t expect gas vehicles to be going anywhere soon. While many countries around the world, and eventually the U.S., hope to slowly phase out of gasoline-powered cars by mid-century, gas vehicles will still rule the road for many decades to come.
The best ways to stay prepared for the next major gas shortage in the U.S., whether it’s caused by hackers or not, is to:
  • Store fuel long-term using gas cans in a heat and pressure-free garage or shed
  • Purchase fuel stabilizer to ensure your gasoline won’t degrade in storage
  • Use stored gas within 6-12 months, restocking as necessary
Hackers and other cyber threats will continue to be a challenge for businesses and individuals alike. But by staying prepared, and understanding the ways that we can make our cars and gas supply last longer, drivers can help mitigate the effects of gas shortages.

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