Computer glitches lead to worries about cybersecurity

At the airport, it was old school when a computer glitch forced United Airlines to ground its flights Wednesday morning.

"We heard several incidents of United Airlines having to hand-write boarding passes," said traveler James Dailey, who arrived at Tampa International Airport from Newark.

It was just short of panic for financial advisers when a computer glitch shut down trading on the New York Stock Exchange late Wednesday morning.

"When we go to the machine and we type in a symbol and it says no quotation," said David Potter of Platinum Wealth Investors. "Emotion starts to come up very quickly."

The stock exchange shutdown canceled 700,000 orders and impacted billions of dollars, while United's glitch cost travelers on 3,500 flights hours of lost time.

"What it says is: there are still things we need to perfect," said Sri Sridharan of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF. "We are 99 percent there."

Sridharan says the glitches show two things: one is how much our computer infrastructure needs to improve.

"We need faster computers, better architecture, better operating systems, more applications that are truly efficient."

The second is how dangerous a true cyberattack would be.

He said that as he stood in front of a real-time chart that shows only one percent of worldwide hacker activity.

"It's not a question of whether they will get hacked," he said. "It's a question of when."

The glitches weren't hacks, but Florida Sen. Bill Nelson took the opportunity to build support for a cybersecurity bill, Tweeting that congress should consider further regulation to protect the digital world we depend on.

Time, travel and money all depend on it.

"It's a little bit worrisome," said Dailey.  "Especially when you hear so much about cyberattacks and so forth, you can't help but think about it when you hear about it."