TAMPA, Fla. - When word of the compromised credit card crisis hit retailers such as Target and Neiman Marcus this past winter, it also hit consumers as a fact of life.
But according to cyber security expert P.W. Singer, who spoke Monday at a University of South Florida cyber security symposium, consumers don't have to take it lying down.
"Instead of acting like there's nothing that we can do, we need to understand the space," said Singer, co-author of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What everyone needs to know." "Because we're all using the internet and basically dealing with the simple measures that we can (use to) protect ourselves."
That means everything from switching passwords, to checking statements more carefully, to pressuring the companies we do business with to take their cyber-security seriously.
"I think the companies that continue to invest in technology to keep data safe are going to be the ones that kind of win this war." said Allen Brinkman, president of Sun Trust Bank in Tampa.
Brinkman also spoke on a panel about how Tampa residents can better prepare for a wave of cyber crime.
"The thing about the Tampa Bay area is we're out front," he told ABC Action News. "And we have resources I think that put us on the map. Bring jobs here, educate students, and become known -- in the world -- for being the leader of cyber security."
With an estimated million more jobs in the cyber-sleuth sector by 2017, supporting what will be by then a $120 billion industry, everyone in the room Monday realized there is potential for Tampa to become what Detroit became for the auto industry. Or, as Singer said, what California became for the digital age.
"Philadelphia is the home of the computer," he said. "Silicon Valley is the winner of the computer revolution. There's a lot of opportunity here, but there's also going to be a lot of competition."