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Peter Rucys, chief information security officer for Tampa General Hospital, foreground, spoke to Scott Tumelty’s cyber security class at Wendell Krinn Technical High School, in New Port Richey. on Oct. 10.

NEW PORT RICHEY – Cyber security can cause havoc on a bank account, national security, and even a heartbeat.

Cyber security students at Wendell Krinn Technical High School learned that lesson Oct. 10. Tampa General Hospital’s chief information security officer, Peter Rucys, talked to students about the need for secure information highways and how important it has become to the medical community.

Tampa General has become closely associated with the class as it has donated several thousands of dollars of used technology equipment for the classes, which is led by instructor Scott Tumelty, to refurbish and use.

“We are responsible for the security of just about everything you can imagine of what makes a network for a hospital,” Rucys said. “We track our data. We know where our data is. We monitor our firewalls and systems for breaches. We monitor things minute-by-minute-by-minute.”

He acknowledged that there are health care professionals who have said many of these security systems prevent the newest medical technology from being used as effectively as they would prefer.

“It’s a constant personal interaction with different stakeholders and different ideas,” he said. “It’s my job to educate them about the importance of cyber security. It’s hard at times and can be frustrating. But, 50 percent of my job is to interact with others to sell the security story. We have gained a lot of ground on the issue over the last seven years.”

Rucys noted the medical profession deals with an enormous load of personal patient information that warrants appropriate security measures.

“We now have computer-based robots who do surgery or automatically adjust the flow of IV machines,” Rucys said. “Someone could conceivably hack into a network and cause there to be too much medicine administered to a patient. That would cause death.”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Rucys also commended the students for taking part in the Air Force’s annual Cyber Competition, through which many of the students have already achieved the title of “cyber patriot.”

Tumelty also proudly points to a wall showing the industry certifications earned by students.

He said after the first year the cyber security classes were offered, two students were offered positions earning more than $40,000 annually.