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GE CEO To Arizona Business Crowd: Cybersecurity Brings Opportunities

GE CEO Jeff Immelt
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
GE CEO Jeff Immelt talks to audience members after panel discussion about technology at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix.

Jeff Immelt joined U.S. Senator John McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and CO+HOOTS founder Jenny Poon for a panel discussion in Phoenix on Friday.

“A company like ours is getting hacked, people trying to get in, every minute of every day," Immelt told the audience at the Arizona Science Center.

He said that he chairs GE's Cyber Task Force so that he can know as much as possible, but admits, "You don't know what you don't know."

The sentiment was echoed by Sen. John McCain who told the group that cybersecurity is the biggest challenge the U.S. has had on any issue since probably sometime in the Cold War. He raised what he called a "doomsday scenario."

"What would happen to our lives if they shut down eveyr satellite in space? Can you imagine?" he said. "And, don't think they're not trying to get there. First are the Russians, second are the Chinese."

While McCain said the federal government must find a way to balance privacy rights and national security, Immelt said cyber security will open up business opportunities.  

"There are gonna be parts of the country that really lead this technology, there's gonna be parts that lead the science, lead the business side," he said. "And, again with the strength of aviation and universities, this is a future industry that could spawn startups and things like that.” 

McCain, who oversees the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said the group will focus on cybersecurity after June.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.