JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At the JEA downtown payment center, customers were surprised to learn the utility's website was the target of a cyber attack.
"I wasn't aware of that," said Lacrecia Anderson. "It is scary."
The JEA computer network was hit with a "denial of service" attack; the FBI has been notified.
"We are making sure that none of our customers' information is jeopardized or compromised," said JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce.
Dr. Walter Eaton of Florida State College at Jacksonville is a cyber security expert.
"A denial of service on JEA could be nothing more than a test," said Eaton, "a test to see if we could have a 'denial of service' to all utilities in the United States."
Eaton said while the data is not deleted during a denial of service attack, it is clearly a crime.
Eaton said the person or persons behind the attack could become a ghost hidden behind a series of zombie computers called a BotNet.
"Imagine this is a hundred thousand or half million computers attacking one server at once," he said. "That is a distributive denial of service."
Eaton said it happens more often than you think
"There are businesses right now in fear of denial of service attack," said Eaton, "or they're being attacked."
Eaton said when the internet was invented, security was not considered, but as our society becomes more wired, security becomes more important for industry and government.
"You can't stop a plague once it has infected everybody," he said.
While the JEA is the big target in this attack, Eaton is convinced that users need to play their part. He said consumers should always update virus protection on their personal computers.
"The more we put our resources on the internet," said Eaton, "the more vulnerable we become."
"It could be dangerous," he added.
First Coast News