SEATTLE -- In Dr. Barbara Endicott-Popovsky's home office, a map of the world flickered on her computer screen. Multi-colored lines stretched from one country to another below a large banner saying "Attacks Today"

It was a visual representation of active online hacking around the globe, she said.

"We're in an arms race," added Endicott-Popovsky, "You can no longer expect to keep people out. They get in."

Dr. Endicott-Popovsky directs the University of Washington's Center for Cybersecurity, recently named one of the Regional Resource Centers for the National Security Agency.

While cyber attacks are a passing concern for most, for her, it's a passion and the focus of her teaching and studies. It also is featured because of the recent Internet slowdown on Friday and email hacks from Wikileaks that showcase the vulnerability of the network connecting most of the world.

"I think we're at a tipping point," she said, "The challenge we're going to face in the next decade is to think through, what does it mean if we experience attacks on critical infrastructure. Is that an act of war?

"People aren't protecting their systems," she continued, "They're not keeping up in terms of making sure they're protected against the next bad thing that happens."

Dr. Endicott-Popovsky said more companies and governments are realizing that material put online is vulnerable, no matter what. The question is how to minimize risk and protect the most important data.

"You're looking at adversaries that are actually well-financed and have endless patience," she concluded.