FBI: No particular pipeline threats in Dakotas, Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (KVRR) – As authorities investigate a cyberextortion attempt that shut down a vital U.S. pipeline, the head of the FBI in Minneapolis says cyber-related crimes are becoming more common.
“A very popular activity now in the cybercrime arena; for folks to go after critical infrastructure” according to Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul, who oversees FBI operations the Dakotas and Minnesota.
The Colonial Pipeline, which transports fuel from Texas to New Jersey, was the recent target of a ransomware attack. Paul tells KVRR that pipelines in the upper Midwest have not been affected.
“At this time, we’re unaware of any particular threat to pipelines in North Dakota or South Dakota” Paul said. “We are mindful of the projects that are going on here, both in the Dakotas and in Minnesota.
Paul also said the FBI is keeping “a very close eye” on protest activities connected to the Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota.
“We have seen definitely some movement of people in and out of the state. Interstate travelers that have come to protest. Much of that activity has been protected activity, First Amendment protected” Paul said.
“There has been some low-level criminal activity, a number of arrests, but we haven’t seen activity that would rise to the federal level.”
Paul says the FBI’s top priorities are counterterrorism and counterintelligence work.