Someone’s loss is someone else’s gain – this proverb perfectly fits in the scenario of GasBuddy. GasBuddy, a popular fueling app that allows users to identify when a station is out of fuel, is the most downloaded app on US Apple devices amid a run-on gas caused by a cyberattack on a critical pipeline. The rapid surge came after the company activated its emergency fuel availability tracker feature, used typically to help people find where there is gas after a natural disaster such as a hurricane.
According to the mobile analytics firm App Annie, the company’s app rose from the 900th most popular in the App Store last week to No. 1 on Wednesday. In the Google Play store that serves many Android devices, GasBuddy has risen to 24th.
The Colonial Pipeline reopened on Wednesday after being hit by a ransomware attack last Friday. The pipeline delivers about 45 percent of the gas on the East Coast. The cyberattack caused long lines and outages at gas stations in the Southeast because of distribution problems made worse by panic-buying.
According to GasBuddy, users of Android and iOS devices typically downloaded its application about 15,000 times per day in 2021. But, on Tuesday that the app reached 313,001 downloads compared with the average daily downloads of 15,339 in the last thirty days. This means the app reached 20 times more downloads on Tuesday than the average day in 2021.
“I was taken aback by the extent of the gas shortages. By Thursday afternoon, GasBuddy said, there were outages at 73 percent of stations in Washington, D.C, 69 percepnt in North Carolina, 52 percent in South Carolina, and at high levels in several other states,” Max Metral, GasBuddy’s chief technical officer, said in an interview.
“We knew we’d have some traffic increase, but I had no idea, there’s a societal part of that, too, because the event itself wasn’t the problem. The problem was that everyone just went out and tried to horde gasoline, and it got much worse,” Metral added.
WawaGasBuddy was established in 2000 as a website to track fuel prices. It had been owned by United Communications Group, a Maryland-based private holding company, but was sold to Professional Data solutions, Inc. in late April. It uses data contributed by users at more than 150,000 gas stations to offer analysis about the fuel market.
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