The Case for Treating Hackers Like Pirates

The Colonial Pipeline, which provides roughly 45 percent of the East Coast’s oil, gas, and jet fuel, was hacked last week by a group called DarkSide. The cyberattack forced the pipeline owners to shut down operations, leading to long gas lines in many American cities. 

The incident has sparked a long-overdue discussion about how to deal with what may be one of the biggest national security threats of the 21st century. A host of countries, including the United States, have sophisticated cyber operations. The Chinese have penetrated large swaths of our infrastructure. Russia and North Korea have sown mischief on several occasions. 

Last year, Russia hacked into the cybersecurity firm Solar Winds, whose clients include Microsoft and numerous U.S. government agencies, among them the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Treasury. 

In 2014, the Guardians of Peace, now more commonly known as the Lazarus Group, hacked into Sony Pictures’ computers and stole a treasure trove of information, including emails between executives, personal data, salary information and copies of unreleased films. The hackers’ stated aim was to prevent the release of the comedy “The Interview,” which made fun of North Korea’s crapulent boy king Kim Jung Un. The FBI designated Guardians of Peace a North Korean state-sponsored hacking organization.

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