Oil storage terminals in several European ports have been hit by cyber-attacks. Until now, 17 warehouses in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have been the victims of this. The loading and unloading of petroleum, gas and other chemicals is delayed, which can lead to supply problems.
MarketScreener reports that which monitors European and international markets.
European oil storage terminals targeted by hackers
Last weekend hackers managed to infiltrate the computer systems of Oiltanking Deutschland and Mabanaft. As a precaution, the companies switched off the loading and unloading systems of 13 distribution locations. This caused logistical problems here and there for the German branch of Shell, which was forced to divert the oil supply. The companies invoke force majeure, a legal term for force majeure that lawyers use when their clients cannot fulfil their contractual obligations as a result.
The cyberattack also has consequences for the Netherlands. According to MarketScreener, several storage terminals of Sea Tank, Oiltanking and Evos in the Netherlands and Belgium have been targeted by hackers. This concerns the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Antwerp and Ghent. Due to the attacks, the digital administration of the oil terminals is experiencing a lot of inconveniences: loading and unloading are delayed because various systems have been taken offline.
Delivery of fuels not at risk
Franci Wessels, spokeswoman at Evos, confirms to NU.nl and Algemeen Dagblad that the terminals in Terneuzen have been disrupted. “The IT services of our terminal in Terneuzen have been disrupted, causing some delay in the execution,” she said. The spokeswoman emphasizes that all Dutch operations continue “in a safe manner”. The supply of petroleum and other fuels is currently not at risk.
The Belgian daily De Morgen writes that the loading and unloading activities of Sea Tank have been difficult since last Sunday. The Antwerp Public Prosecutor’s Office confirms that an investigation into the cyberattack is currently underway. “An investigation has been launched with the help of the Computer Crime Unit of the Federal Police. We cannot make any further statements about it yet,” said Kristof Aerts of the Antwerp Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Russian hacker group BlackCat responsible for cyber attacks
It is unknown who is behind the cyber-attacks and whether a ransom has been demanded. Security experts suspect that Russian hackers are responsible for the attacks. Insiders at the German Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) tell Handelsblatt that they suspect the attackers have used BlackCat ransomware. The cybersecurity supervisor could not say what that is based on.
BlackCat has carried out multiple cyberattacks against companies in the US, Australia and India in the past three months. The hacker group offers its ransomware as Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) on the dark web.
Update: the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) acknowledges the coverage of cyber attacks on the oil and chemical sector in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. However, the agency does not believe that this is a coordinated attack. “The image of the NCSC is that at the moment there does not seem to be a coordinated attack and that the attacks were probably committed with a criminal motive,” the NCSC said in a press statement. The agency says it is closely monitoring developments and taking further action if necessary.
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