Editorial: Enhancing computer security | Editorial

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The May highjacking of the Colonial Pipeline network by hackers caused gas shortages across the Southeast, such as at this BP station at Williamsburg Road and Parker Street in Richmond.

With computer hacks on massive scales now a frightening reality of modern life, the discovery by University of Virginia (UVA)researchers of a computer chip security flaw is a welcome piece of progress. That information can help designers correct the problem and potentially thwart hackers in the future.

Just so far in 2021, several far-reaching cybercrimes have paralyzed industries across the globe. Local residents will remember the recent hijacking of the Colonial Pipeline network, in which the criminal DarkSide organization, believed to be based in Russia, blocked the pipeline’s transmission of gasoline and jet fuel.

That caused shortages and panic across the Southeast. The hackers demanded a $4.4 million ransom, which the company paid via Bitcoin. The U.S. Justice Department, using its own cyberwizardry, was able to take back some of that money.

Just ahead of the July 4 holiday, another Russian-speaking group, REvil, hacked a software product used by businesses and governments around the world and demanded $70 million to supply a “decryptor” remedy. By mid-month, though, the organization had gone dark — leaving many to hope it had been dismantled but fearful that it has simply gone underground to prepare its next assault.

Another hack targeted the Washington, D.C., police department and resulted in the exposure of employees’ personal information. Ditto for a…