The Colonial Pipeline, which carries fuel through the eastern U.S., suffered a ransomware attack late last week which disrupted service and forced the system offline. But what exactly is a ransomware attack and how does it work? Jamil Jaffer, founder and executive director at the National Security Institute, told Cheddar the attacks essentially encrypt all of a system’s files, making them “unusable without a key,” he said. Hackers then request funds for the systems files to be released. While these attacks vary in the specifics, Jaffer said the process of bad actors infiltrating companies, industries, and governments is the same and in order to snuff them out, collaboration among at-risk groups is essential. “One of the things Congress can do right now is spend the time and effort to create what I would call a joint collaborative environment,” Jaffer told Cheddar.