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Can Maryland Become the "Silicon Valley of Cybersecurity"?

Can Maryland Become the "Silicon Valley of Cybersecurity"?

Photo: A cybersecurity team in Maryland. Argonne National Laboratory/Flickr (CC)

Brian Witte

January 14, 2010

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Gov. Martin O’Malley said Monday he wants Maryland to be the outlining plans to put the state out front in developing an industry focused on securing computer systems from tampering.

O’Malley, who has been discussing job creation plans to help lift Maryland out of the recession, joined four Maryland members of Congress at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg to discuss a state report on cybersecurity.

The report, called CyberMaryland, was billed as the first comprehensive inventory of any state’s cybersecurity assets.

O’Malley cited the presence of federal agencies like NIST and the National Security Agency as reasons the state should excel as a leader in the field. Maryland also will be gaining the Defense Information System Agency from Virginia next year as part of military base realignment, and state officials hope Maryland will be home to a new military cybercommand.

“Our federal assets are a big, big part of the reason that we’re in a better position than most other states in the union to actually get our state economy back on track and lead the rest of our nation into an era of new prosperity,” O’Malley said.

Cybersecurity has become increasingly important as computer hackers attempt to steal money, information and intellectual property or damage important services through computer attacks.

“We are ahead of the game,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. “We do now this minute have a cyber shield around the United States of America, but in order to maintain it, we’ve got to be smarter, we’ve got to be faster and we have to use our resources.”

A report by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development is calling for a partnership involving the federal and state governments, the private sector and academic institutions by establishing a National Center of Excellence for Cyber Security in Maryland.

The report also points out that Maryland must provide adequate training in its schools to prepare people in math and science skills to qualify them for jobs in the field.

“These are the strategies that will add up to more and better jobs while also addressing a critical security need for our nation,” O’Malley said.

The report also recommends making the cybersecurity industry in Maryland a focus of state government and marketing the state as the “national epicenter” of cybersecurity.

The governor also announced that a 16-member board will study how to connect Maryland companies with federal opportunities. The state’s Federal Facilities Advisory Board will work with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to study how to link Maryland companies with federal job opportunities.

Maryland is home to more than 50 federal facilities with more than 100,000 well-educated employees and contractors, the O’Malley administration said. Federal facilities contribute an estimated $16 billion to Maryland’s economy.

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