These days hackers can wreak havoc worldwide by breaking into computer systems — stealing, corrupting and hijacking data and the controls of the computers systems that operate global infrastructure.
Last week's "WannaCry" ransomware virus had the potential to bring the world to its knees. By a lucky break, it didn't. Last summer's hack of the Democratic National Committee by Russian attackers may have changed the course of a presidential election.
Now Massachusetts companies have a new way to combat hacking. The Mass Tech Leadership Council on Monday announced a new threat-sharing service for businesses in the state called the MA Security Initiative, which will include CyberMA, a state affiliate of the national CyberUSA initiative.
Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Ed Markey was on hand — via video — for the launch.
"In a world where your computer, cell phone, wrist watch, headphones, camera, diapers are connected to the internet, cyber security cannot be an afterthought."
Markey says more computer safeguards must be put in place. He says he will resubmit bills that died in the Senate last year to beef up federal oversight of computers in cars and airlines to make their operating systems more secure.
Rob Joyce, President Trump's special assistant for cybersecurity, or so-called White House "cybersecurity czar," was also in attendance. He told the Mass Tech Leadership Council that the battle against cyber criminals armed with malicious software is a war without an end.
"We'll never stop motivated intruders," Joyce said. "The technology that exists in our infrastructure is massive and when somebody wants to come after a business or a person, the opportunity is too great."
Part of the problem is the army of internet technology warriors trained to combat cyber criminals is too small, according to Rodney Petersen, director of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education at the Commerce Department.
Petersen says there's a huge demand in the U.S. for cyber cops — 350,000 open positions, and the number is expected to grow.
"And we certainly need a pipeline," Peterson said. "We need academic institutions doing what they do traditionally, but we need more aggressive approaches to make sure people actually have the skills that employers need."
The solution, Petersen says, is to aggressively recruit and train under-represented minorities, veterans and women to cyber security, and to provide hands on education to prevent, detect and — when the inevitable strikes — neutralize the threat of cyber weapons of mass destruction.
This segment aired on May 22, 2017.