The Motley Fool

Could Enbridge (TSX:ENB) Pipelines Be Hacked?

Image source: Getty Images

This month, the world witnessed one of the most bizarre spectacles in the history of the energy industry. The Colonial Pipeline–a joint venture by Koch Industries and four other investors–was the subject of a ransomware attack that shut down its operations. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency, and the Pipeline paid hackers 75 Bitcoin (US$5 million) in ransom. Since then, the Colonial Pipeline has come back online, but the questions raised by the hack continue to be debated.

One of those questions is whether another pipeline could fall victim to a similar attack. Pipeline companies like Enbridge (TSX:ENB)(NYSE:ENB) transport millions of barrels of oil every day. Were Enbridge to be hacked, the cost to the Canadian economy would be enormous. Ontario and Quebec count on Enbridge for 540,000 barrels of oil a day. In this article I’ll explore whether Enbridge could be hacked — and what the implications would be for investors.

How Colonial got hacked

Right now, experts aren’t sure how Colonial Pipeline got hacked. However, it has been theorized that hackers gained access to the network by getting an employee to download an email containing malware. Once the hackers got in, they launched malware that rendered Colonial’s systems inoperable. After collecting their US$5 million ransom, they gave the company the software needed to get their network back online.

5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Click here to gain access!

Could the same thing happen to Enbridge’s pipelines?

If Colonial Pipeline could fall victim to a massive ransomware attack, it’s natural to wonder whether the same thing could happen to Enbridge. Colonial Pipeline is the U.S.’s largest pipeline, and Enbridge operates pipelines of similar size. Transporting three million barrels of oil a day, it’s the largest pipeline company in North America.

Whether Enbridge could become a victim of hacking depends on several factors.

  • Social: Does Enbridge allow employees to email people outside the company freely? If so, does it train them not to download unwanted software?
  • Technical: Does Enbridge have systems in place to detect and reject unwanted software from its networks?
  • Political: Does Enbridge have “enemies” who might want to target it for some reason?

The answers to these questions are beyond the scope of this article. But these are the types of factors Enbridge would want to look at when determining whether it is at risk of a ransomware attack.

Implications for investors

If Enbridge became the victim of a ransomware attack, the implications for investors would be enormous. The Colonial Attack forced the pipeline to stop operating completely. If a similar hack occurred on Enbridge’s network, three million barrels a day of production capacity could be taken offline. If just the Line 5 pipeline were attacked, it would take 540,000 barrels a day off line.

The revenue impact could be to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Investors will want to keep this in mind as malware attacks become more and more common.

If you like Enbridge stock, you might like these Motley Fool picks as well:

Just Released! 5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today for under $49 a share.
Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued, but more importantly, could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.
Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your FREE 5-stock report now!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Andrew Button has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Enbridge.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss an important event.

Iain Butler and the Stock Advisor Canada team only publish their new “buy alerts” twice a month, and only to an exclusively small group.

This is your chance to get in early on what could prove to be very special investment advice.

Enter your email address below to get started now, and join the other thousands of Canadians who have already signed up for their chance to get the market-beating advice from Stock Advisor Canada.