Maryland aims to be cybersecurity 'epicenter'

Maryland officials want the state to be the U.S. "epicenter" for fighting cyber attacks, and on Monday they launched an effort to bring more cybersecurity research and jobs to the state.

Maryland has several resources that make it the perfect place to be a national -- and world -- leader in cybersecurity, said Governor Martin O'Malley, speaking at a kick-off event at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In addition to the NIST, Maryland is home to the U.S. National Security Agency, 12 major military installations, world-class schools such as Johns Hopkins University and dozens of top cybersecurity vendors, O'Malley and other officials said.

Cybersecurity leadership and innovation is needed at a time when the U.S. is getting attacked from all sides, said Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat. "Cybersecurity is all-hands-on-deck and all-agencies-on-deck," she said.

O'Malley's administration on Monday released a 32-page report, called CyberMaryland, focused on ways to improve cybersecurity efforts in the state. The report calls for the state to work with the U.S. government to establish a national center of excellence in cybersecurity in the state, including a cybersecurity business incubator and an education and training center.

The report also calls for the state to more actively pursue the transfer of technologies developed in federal labs to businesses located within the state, to encourage new businesses focused on cybersecurity standards and certification, to focus more educational programs on cybersecurity needs, and to review the state government's internal cybersecurity efforts.

The report also recommends that the state pump up its workforce training programs and establish ties with the U.S. Department of Defense's Cyber Corps program, which trains students in cybersecurity and related fields.

O'Malley's plan would market the state as a hotbed of cybersecurity activity and would dovetail on U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement last May that the U.S. government will give cybersecurity a higher priority.

Maryland already has the talent, research and innovation in the cybersecurity area, and it can build on those strengths to grow jobs and improve the U.S. cybersecurity posture, said Christian Johansson, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

"In cybersecurity, we not only have the strengths necessary to grow these 21st-century jobs; frankly, given our strengths, we have a patriotic duty to assume a greater degree of responsibility in keeping this country safe," Johansson said.

Maryland has more than 20 colleges and universities offering computer science degrees, and it is home to the Chesapeake Innovation Center, the nation's first business accelerator focused on homeland, national and cyber security, officials noted.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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