When the Colonial petroleum pipeline was cyberattacked, the effect on the American consumer was almost immediate as gas prices shot up and drivers scrambled to get gasoline.
The company that operates the main gasoline artery along the east coast shut down the pipeline after hackers broke in virtually and stole internal information, holding it for ransom in what’s known as a ransomware attack.
Reportedly, Colonial paid hackers $4.4 millions to return the company’s data.
Earlier this year, hackers accessed the computer systems at an Oldsmar, Florida water treatment facility near Tampa and increased the sodium hydroxide in the water by more than 100 times. Workers quickly noticed and decreased levels.
And in 2019, two Florida cities each paid hackers more than a million dollars to unlock their city hall computer networks.
UCF Computer Science Professor Dr. Yan Solihin said the frequency and scale of cyberattacks are increasing at an alarming rate.
“We live in a dangerous world in which cyber attacks are increasing in quantity and how they impact our daily lives,” Solihin said.
Solihin was hired by UCF in 2018 to address the growing problem. He believes hackers far outnumber the people qualified to protect against the hacks so it keeps happening.
“Just in Florida we have 21,000 openings in cybersecurity,” Solihin said. “It’s not five years from now or 40 years from now when we start producing our graduates, but right now, today, it’s 21,000 jobs.
This fall, UCF will offer its new Cyber Security and Privacy Master’s Degree program.