For the better part of a decade, UAlbany has been training students how to counter hacking and cyber attacks through its emerging cybersecurity program.

"People often think of it as only a big problem when you're dealing with banks or large institutions but it's a really a problem we're dealing with every single day," said Dr. Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY’s senior vice chancellor for community colleges.

As evidenced by a recent cyber attack that cost the city of Albany more than $300,000, it is a threat that experts say is growing.

"We are looking at estimates that the global cost of hacking and cyber attacks is approaching $6 trillion," said Robert Griffin, dean of UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity.

"Hacking has unfortunately become almost part of our everyday life here in the Capital Region and throughout New York," U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said.

Speaking on campus Monday, Schumer said the SUNY system is poised to become a national leader in combating cyber threats. With a national shortage of roughly 300,000 cyber security workers and a statewide shortage of 15,000, he announced support for a more than $3 million educational pilot program.

“It’s one of the things that’s most needed in America right now, and our SUNY system, led by University of Albany, can fill that important, important vacuum,” he said.

If the pilot program is approved, Schumer says UAlbany would serve as its hub. It would extend out to community colleges, which would train graduates in all corners of the state.

"We have the 30 community colleges across the state of New York. They will help prepare folks for those entry-level jobs immediately and, really, thousands of folks," Duncan-Poitier said.

UAlbany is already constructing a new building for its program. As the threat of cyber attacks grows, SUNY leaders believe the investment is vitally important.

"We, as well as others around the country, know the time is now," Duncan-Poitier said.