By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News/AP) — Anyone filling up right now is going to feel it – a big jump in gas prices.

Prices at the pump have risen 6 cents a gallon since last a week.

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AAA expects those prices to keep rising because of the shutdown of a major U.S. pipeline hit by a cyberattack.

The national average right now is $2.96 for a gallon of regular.

It is even higher in the city of Chicago, where motorist are now paying an average $3.51.

Compare that to a year ago, when we were only paying $2.36.

The cyberextortion attempt that forced the shutdown of that vital U.S. pipeline was carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide that cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity, the FBI said Monday
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The shutdown, meanwhile, stretched into its third full day Monday, with the Biden administration loosening regulations of the transport of petroleum products on highways as part of an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to avoid disruptions in the fuel supply. Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline said Monday it hopes to have service mostly restored by the end of the week.

Experts said gasoline prices are unlikely to be affected if the pipeline is back to normal in the next few days but that the incident — the worst cyberattack to date on critical U.S. infrastructure — should serve as a wake-up call to companies about the vulnerabilities they face.

The pipeline carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast. It delivers roughly 45% of fuel consumed on the East Coast, according to the company.

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It was hit by what Colonial called a ransomware attack, in which hackers typically lock up computer systems by encrypting data and paralyzing networks, then demand a large ransom to unscramble it.

On Monday, Colonial Pipeline said it was planning a “phased approach” with the goal of “substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week.”

“Restoring our network to normal operations is a process that requires the diligent remediation of our systems, and this takes time,” the company said in a statement.

It says it remains in contact with law enforcement and other federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, which is leading the federal government response. The company hasn’t said what was demanded or who made the demand.

At the White House, President Biden told reporters Monday the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence the Russian government was involved with the Colonial attack, but Mr. Biden said there was evidence the ransomware was in Russia. “They have some responsibility to deal with this,” the president said after delivering remarks on the economy.

DarkSide is among ransomware gangs that have “professionalized” a criminal industry that has cost Western nations tens of billions of dollars in losses in the past three years.

DarkSide claims it doesn’t attack hospitals and nursing homes, educational or government targets and that it donates a portion of its take to charity. It’s been active since August and, typical of the most potent ransomware gangs, is known to avoid targeting organizations in former Soviet bloc nations.

Colonial didn’t say whether it has paid or was negotiating a ransom, and DarkSide neither announced the attack on its dark web site nor responded to an Associated Press reporter’s queries. The lack of acknowledgment usually indicates a victim is either negotiating or has paid.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBS 2 Chicago Staff