Colonial Pipeline cyber attackers should be EXECUTED after 'act of war', Newt Gingrich says

NEWT Gingrich said on Monday that he believes the hackers who knocked out the Colonial Pipeline should be executed for the "act of war" cyber-attack.

The former house speaker told Fox News' Sean Hannity yesterday night that he believes Biden should be authorized "to order the killings of anybody overseas" found to be responsible for Friday's hack.

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"On the national security part, let me say, we ought to pass a law immediately that makes this kind of hacking subject to a death penalty and the law should include a provision that the president through a judicial process should be able to order the killing of anybody overseas who is doing this," Gingrich stated.

"I mean, we've now spent like 15 years on defense. We have no idea who they are. We have no idea where they are. And if we did know who they were we would have no mechanism to do anything about it."

The Republican continued that a "great country cannot allow people to come in and have no consequences and then wait for the next attack."

Gingrich said he believes the matter should be a bipartisan issue with lawmakers asking themselves "what are we prepared to do to protect America."

"It's an act of war against the United States to do stuff like this," Gingrich insisted.

"We need to react to it as an act of war, and the American people are going to look at their representatives and their senators and say, if you don't fix this, your successor will. I won't put up with it, and I won't put up with you if you don't fix it."

The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel, was shut down on Friday after a group of Russia-based hackers known as DarkSide staged a ransomware attack.

The day prior, the group also reportedly stole 100 gigabytes of data from Colonial's servers before encrypting them and demanding a ransom fee.

It's unclear if the company has paid or is negotiating a ransom, but the 5,500-mile pipeline has been almost entirely shut off for nearly five days.

Colonial says it doesn't expect to fully restore service until at least the weekend – and chaos has ensued in the meantime.

Across Virginia, Florida, and Alabama, fuel stations are completely selling out of gasoline and the governor of North Carolina has declared a state of emergency over the dwindling supplies at the pumps.

Average retail gas prices in the US have also risen to almost $3 per gallon – their highest level since late 2014.

The airline industry, which was gearing up for a surge in demand this summer after a year of COVID-19 restrictions, is also feeling the effects of the hack.

American Airlines said it has been forced to adjust two long-haul flight routes out of Charlotte, North Carolina, to add fuel stops.

Flights to Hawaii will for the meantime call in at Dallas-Forth Worth airport, while London-bound flights will make a stop in Boston.

Airlines flying out of Philadelphia International Airport, in Pennsylvania, are said to be burning through jet reserves and the airport only has enough supply to last "a couple of weeks", a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

After much speculation, the FBI confirmed on Monday that the Russian criminal gang known as DarkSide was behind the attack.

The relatively new group, which is made up of a cohort of veteran hackers, claims their only goal is to make money and not cause chaos.

Russia has no connection to the cyberattack, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on the dark web, Darkside wrote: "We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics. Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.

"From today we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future."

Cyber experts, meanwhile, have warned that the attack has the potential to become a "real-world catastrophe."

"This could be the most impactful ransomware attack in history, a cyber disaster turning into a real-world catastrophe," Andrew Rubin, CEO of cybersecurity firm Illumio, told NBC.

"It's an absolute nightmare, and it's a recurring nightmare. Organizations continue to rely and invest entirely on detection as if they can stop all breaches from happening.

"But this approach misses attacks over and over again. Before the next inevitable breach, the president and Congress need to take action on our broken security model," he said.

Despite Gingrich's seeming call to arms, President Joe Biden appears to have opted for diplomacy, telling reporters on Monday that US intelligence has found no evidence to suggest the Russian hackers were working for the Kremlin.

"They have some responsibility to deal with this," Biden said of the Kremlin, adding that he'll be speaking with President Vladimir Putin about the matter soon.

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