EDITORIAL: The digital war

Every few months it seems we are confronted with a new paralyzing cyberattack. Hackers hit the government. They hit the private sector. Operations at important junctions come to a screeching halt.

The latest target of nefarious denizens online is a pipeline:

“The shutdown of a vital U.S. pipeline because of a ransomware attack stretched into a third day Sunday, with the Biden administration saying an ‘all-hands-on-deck effort’ was underway to restore operations and avoid disruptions in gasoline supply.”

Tomorrow is too late to bulk up cybersecurity. Defenses need to be boosted yesterday.

Some hackers have all day to look for holes in digital fences. They seek to sow chaos, steal secrets, hold information ransom and crush critical infrastructure. Left unchecked, hackers have a devastating effect on pipelines, plants, agencies and other critical facilities.

Just think of how quickly devastation would follow if hackers hit a power grid. Or a fuel station for emergency vehicles.

Devious hackers aren’t just movie villains anymore. There are entire gangs out there dedicated to their business. The group that carried out this attack reportedly calls itself DarkSide.

The company that was hacked most recently, Colonial Pipeline, delivers roughly 45 percent of the fuel used on the East Coast. That’s not something you want crippled. Fire trucks, ambulances, emergency vehicles–they all run on fuel, and shortages could hinder them.

This latest hack comes after a water treatment plan was hacked in Florida. That’s not something you want in the hands of anybody but our own professionals. Who knows what the bad guys could add to water if left unchecked?

Important facilities hire security guards to keep people from breaking in. That same mindset needs to be given to a digital defense strategy.

Hackers aren’t waiting for anyone to realize how vulnerable America’s infrastructure is. They’re running ahead and looking for weaknesses in the wall. Each attack is a reminder vigilance is needed in the digital realm. Lives are at stake.

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