Maryland wants to be cybersecurity epicenter

Politicians tout Free State's credentials to be national cybersecurity hub

Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has plans to boost his state’s national status as a leader in cybersecurity and bolster Maryland's computer security-related jobs.

O’Malley released a report, titled CyberMaryland, on Jan. 11 that makes the case that the state is positioned to be the hub for federal, academic and private-sector cybersecurity efforts. Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development developed the document, with guidance from more than 50 information technology and security experts from around the state, according to O’Malley’s office.

Maryland is already home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Security Agency, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity—the soon-to-be home of the Defense Information Systems Agency—and continues to hopeful that it will be the future home to the Defense Department’s planned cyber command center.

“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 during a press conference on Jan. 11 at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., during which he released the CyberMaryland report. Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation joined O'Malley, the former mayor of Baltimore, at the event.

In addition, according to the governor’s office, top universities in the state conduct almost $1 billion worth of research each year. Many of the largest defense contractors also have significant offices in the state. According to the report that inventoried the state's capacity and resources for cybersecurity, Maryland’s IT employment rate rose by 3.3 percent between 2001 and 2008, while nationwide it fell by 17.1 percent during that same time period. 

“Taken together these are the connections, these are the strategies that will add up to more and better jobs, while also addressing a critical security need,” O’Malley said during the press conference.

Specifically, the CyberMaryland report recommended creating a cybersecurity national center of excellence in Maryland that would receive federal funding. A model for the center would have government partnering with industry and academia, and would serve as an incubator for business, a testing laboratory for new technologies and a clearinghouse for information sharing, the report recommended. As part of the model, the center of excellence would also be involved in annual security audits of state-funded data systems, developing training and education initiatives for schools and establishing a cybersecurity, IT law council state leadership to advise the governor and state leaders, according to the report.

More generally the report laid out four priorities for the state:

  • Supporting the creation and growth of innovative cybersecurity technologies in the Maryland
  • Educating new cybersecurity talent in the state
  • Advancing cybersecurity policies to position Maryland for enhanced national leadership and
  • Ensuring sustained growth and future competitiveness of the state’s cybersecurity industry.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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