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OpenSSH flaw found; gasoline prices skyrocket in some parts of the country

June 26, 2002 Posted: 9:42 AM EST (1442 GMT)
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (CNN) -- The disclosure of an OpenSSH vulnerability on Tuesday pushed gasoline prices higher in parts of the country following rumors of upcoming cyber-terror attacks in Washington and New York.

In some areas, the price per gallon more than doubled.

A gasoline industry spokesman, meanwhile, said consumers had nothing to worry about, because there are plenty of secure OpenSSH systems in the country and that some gas stations apparently were simply gouging consumers.

Chart courtesy of StLouisGasPrices.com In Oklahoma City, gas prices reached the $2 mark. In Indianapolis, the price for a gallon of gas fluctuated between $4 and $5. Long lines at gas stations were reported in parts of the southeastern United States. The California Service Station Association noted independent gas stations had raised their prices by about 20 cents a gallon on news of the OpenSSH flaw.

In St. Louis, prices jumped by about 10 cents per gallon, according to a spokeswoman for StLouisGasPrices.com. The spokeswoman noted that a Shell station in O'Fallon, Illinois raised prices by 30 cents a gallon on Tuesday, matching their price increase on September 11, 2001 after terrorists physically attacked Washington, D.C. and New York City.

A clerk who answered the phone at the O'Fallon Shell admitted they use OpenSSH but refused to comment on the station's price gouging policy.

Some consumers suggested gas station owners were taking advantage of a bad situation. The American Petroleum Institute (API), representing the petroleum industry, echoed that thought.

"There is a substantial threat to OpenSSH and it is running in all parts of the United States," said Chris Rouland, a spokesman for computer security firm Internet Security Systems, which instigated rumors of upcoming cyber-attacks after they claimed credit for discovering the OpenSSH flaw.

Rouland dismissed accusations of rumor-mongering. "[ISS] is aware of active exploit development for this vulnerability," he asserted.

Rouland added that the increase in gas prices is an issue that needs to be dealt with by local authorities. He said the OpenSSH vulnerability his firm discovered should have no impact on gasoline supplies.


(Original non-parody version of this story published here.)