Afternoon Coffee: US pipeline operators must do cybersecurity assessment; The shortage of rental cars; UK runs short of popular summer treat

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A directive from the Biden administration will require US pipeline operators to conduct a cybersecurity assessment for the first time, according to the Associated Press.

The directive comes in response to the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware hack that disrupted gas supplies in several East and Southeast states this month. The Transportation Security Administration will mandate that owners and operators of pipelines report cyber incidents to the federal government while having a cybersecurity coordinator available at all times to work with authorities in case more attacks occur.

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Pipeline companies had operated under voluntary guidelines. But now they could face financial penalties starting at $7,000 per day if they fail to comply with the directives, the AP reported.

“The evolution of ransomware attacks in the last 12-18 months has gotten to a point that it poses a national security risk and that we are concerned about the impact on national critical functions," an official told the AP.

High demand for rental cars leads to shortage, higher prices

While consumers become comfortable with traveling again, a high demand for rental cars is leaving a shortage that is likely to push prices high through the summer, according to KOTA News.

Many car companies sold their cars during the Covid pandemic because demand was so low. But as travel comes roaring back, supply is too low for rentals and for those looking to buy.

“Our fleet acquisition team is working hard to secure additional vehicles — both new and low-mileage used vehicles — through all channels to meet the ongoing increase in demand,” a representative for Enterprise Holdings told KOTA. “Overall though, both new and used car inventory remain low. Our teams will continue to work hard to meet the increasing leisure travel demand and support customers' broader transportation needs.”

UK facing shortage of popular summer treat: Cadbury 99 Flake

While lockdowns ease and the weather warms up, our UK friends are seeing a shortage of Cadbury 99 Flakes, a popular soft-serve treat, according to the Independent.

The last few weeks have seen a surge in demand for the ice cream cone topped with a crumbly sweet treat. It has left ice cream trucks short of supply. Cadbury’s owner, Mondelez, told the Independent that the shortage is a result of an unexpected demand. So far, it has affected just the UK and Ireland.

“They are impossible to get at the moment, but there is word they will be coming out in dribs and drabs. It is the first time I heard of a shortage like this,” Paddy O’Donnell, owner of Clarmac Merchandising Services, told the Independent. “I have sold more Flakes so far this year than I had right up to the middle of last summer. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon, but I am lucky at leave to have some stock left.”

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