They sailed the seas searching for vulnerable ships carrying merchandise and money. Sometimes pirates would steal the entire ship and cargo, other times they boarded and robbed crews and their vessel of all valuables.

Today's cyber pirates' troubling potential for harm

Unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean or local home invasions, mass cyber attacks are not limited to seizures of physical properties and territories. The 21st century pirates can sail into anybody’s living room with the click of a mouse or without any notice at all through battalions of computers in corporations and governments all linked via the internet.

Today; a combat trained soldier sitting at a nuclear weapons-triggering keyboard is no more able to defend themselves from a cyber attack than a civilian secretary in Tampa. Such cyber attacks can and do affect the immediate healthcare of patients in hospitals, as well as national security and public safety. We are all potential victims of cyber pirates in an Internet-driven world where many people can hardly remember their bank account password, let alone defend against pirate techies gone wild.

Virus hits disabled Chernobyl nuclear plant

Today, the latest massive cyber attack struck Russia, Europe and the United States, locking employees out of their computers and freezing access to massive accounts by executives and CEOs.

Today’s attack using sophisticated ransomware included taking over systems that monitor radiation at the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The attack is similar to one in May that hit about 150 countries. In Ukraine, officials say cyber pirates have infiltrated government computers, including key infrastructure.

The Danish Maersk conglomerate is reportedly under cyber attack, as is oil giant Rosneft of Russia, British advertising and marketing multinational WPP and Norway’s National Security Authority announced an “international company” in that country is under cyber siege. By noon, corporations in the United States were under attack, including large pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck and others located in New Jersey.

Cyber attack similar to May's crisis

Today’s international cyber attack is reportedly similar in size and scope to the May infection that officials in the US linked to North Korea. That virus introduced a "flaw" to surveillance tool kits that shut down computers in 150 nations. Today’s attacks dispatched a virus known as Petrwrap or Petya. May’s computer virus was appropriately named WannaCry.

Cyber pirates lurk beyond electronic waves

While the task of defending websites around the world from cyber pirates is above the technical capacity and paygrade of the average computer user, it seems we’ve collectively arrived at the entry gate to the Internet Twilight Zone, or perhaps that twilight zone has arrived at our doors.

Either way, it’s not just prudent but absolutely necessary to pay close attention to emails and files that we open on our computers at home and work. The Internet is today’s ocean of communication, where cyber pirates lurk just beyond the electronic waves of our servers, waiting for an opportunity to board our vessel en masse.