GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Hackers have again made their presence known forcing a major oil pipeline on the east coast of the U.S. shut down. What they want is ransom and a local IT expert told Local 5’s Kris Schuller this type of cybercrime can happen anywhere, anytime.

Across the southeastern section of the nation – panic at the pump.

“I just suspected prices would go way up, I didn’t suspect there wouldn’t be any the next day,” said one woman looking for gasoline.

It came after hackers shut the Colonial Pipeline down – a ransomware attack that IT expert Gaurav Bansel from UW-Green Bay says is all about money.

“It works on freezing your systems and kind of forcing you to pay money to get your systems back,” said Bansel.

Bansel says this latest hack is making headlines because the pipeline supplies 40 percent of the East Coast’s fuel.

“This is a stark example of how these cyberattacks can have real demonstrable impacts on our economy and national security,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

But other attacks can and do happen to companies here in Wisconsin, who just pay the ransom and move on.

“There are so many and so often, everyday I would say, every second, every minute, they are so common,” said Bansel.

So how do hackers get in in the first place? Bansel says it starts with an innocent click on a virus infected email.

“These attacks can happen because of just one employee who clicks on the phishing email and lets those hackers into the system,” he said.

Bansel says to prevent attacks, companies need to stay current on their internet security protocols and constantly train up employees on spotting suspicious emails.

“Even though it looks genuine, you have to ask multiple questions. Is it really genuine, really coming from the person who says he or she says they are?” Bansel said.

Because hackers are always looking for an opening and we have to do our best to stay one step ahead.

“It is more common than we believe it is,” he said.

Bansel says we all need to be cautious while online because hackers also set their sights on stealing your personal information.