The recent cyberattack on Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline is the worst to date on critical U.S. infrastructure, according to a report by ABC News.

The cyberextortion attempt forced the shutdown of the pipeline, which carries gasoline and other fuel from Texas to the Northeast. It delivers nearly half of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

In such ransomware attacks, hackers typically lock up computer systems by encrypting data, paralyzing networks, and then demanding a large ransom to unscramble it.

David Kennedy, founder and senior principal security consultant at TrustedSec, said that once a ransomware attack is discovered, companies have little recourse but to completely rebuild their infrastructure, or pay the ransom.

“Ransomware is absolutely out of control and one of the biggest threats we face as a nation,” Kennedy said. “The problem we face is most companies are grossly underprepared to face these threats.”

In an interview with Reuters, a senior official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s cyber arm, CISA, said that the dramatic hack should serve as a wakeup call for people well beyond the energy industry.

“All organizations should really sit up and take notice and make urgent investments to make sure that they’re protecting their networks against these threats,” said Eric Goldstein, CISA’s executive assistant director for cybersecurity.

Visit the CoreNet Global Knowledge Center to access this podcast on cybersecurity and the corporate real estate portfolio, plus this article on the overall risk outlook for 2021.