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Maryland, My Cyber Maryland

Bob Ludwig
By Bob Ludwig
  • News |
  • Cybersecurity

The name of the Maryland state song—“Maryland, My Maryland”—hasn’t changed. But today, it seems the title of the old battle hymn ought to include cyberspace, as Maryland quickly evolves into the epicenter of the nation’s booming cybersecurity and information assurance industries.

The state is uniquely situated to lead a cybersecurity industry that has exploded in the past 10 years, and it is no surprise that Maryland was chosen as home of the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame.

At the federal level, Maryland is home to key cybersecurityrelated agencies like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). And as a result of the Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, Maryland added the U.S. Cyber Command, which relocated to Ft. Meade in 2011, and the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), now based at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Maryland’s colleges and universities are integral to the industry, as well, graduating students from some of the country’s first academic programs in cybersecurity. UMUC is one of 13 Maryland universities—more than in any other state—designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“Maryland has a phenomenal ecosystem,” said Jeani Park, director of cyber development at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED). “With our unique cluster of cyber-related government, academic, and business entities, we have the building blocks to be a dominant player in the cybersecurity industry.”

Park’s comments echo some of the key points laid out in a comprehensive report that DBED released in 2010. That report, entitled, “CyberMaryland: Epicenter for Information Security & Innovation,” outlined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s blueprint for the state’s role as the national leader in cybersecurity and launched the CyberMaryland initiative.

“Our state has tremendous assets to keep the country safe and advance innovations in cybersecurity,” O’Malley wrote in an introduction.

According to market research cited in the report, the federal information technology market is estimated at $98 billion in 2013, and federal demand for information security products and services alone is projected to total almost $12 billion in 2014. The commercial market is expected to be even larger.

Lockheed Martin, the aerospace and defense giant headquartered in Bethesda, employs 9,200 in Maryland and 140,000 worldwide. In 2009, the company opened its NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center, a cyber research and development facility, in Gaithersburg.

CyberPoint International, a company that is developing innovative cybersecurity products for the consumer market, is an example of another company that is fueling commercial job growth. The Baltimore-based firm opened just three years ago and now employs about 300, most highly trained engineers and IT professionals.

Karl Gumtow, CyberPoint’s co-founder and CEO, is a member of UMUC’s Board of Visitors. He located his company in Baltimore as a way to give back to the city and to spotlight the increasingly important role that cybersecurity plays in our society and economy.

Rick Geritz, the general manager of product services at CyberPoint, also serves as chair of the Cyber Advisory Board, an informal group that includes representatives from leading systems integrators, cyber firms, and federal institutions, along with academicians and investors. The group helped organize the highly successful CyberMaryland 2012 conference last fall in Baltimore. UMUC was a major sponsor of the conference, which featured Michael Daniel, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, and other prominent speakers, spotlighting Maryland’s position as the national epicenter of cybersecurity. A jobs report released in January identified 20,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the state.

Contributing to that demand is growing commercial activity that is drawing attention from venture capitalists and Wall Street investors who are increasingly bullish about Maryland. InvestMaryland, for example, has raised $84 million in venture capital to support commercial growth in key high-tech sectors, including cybersecurity.

In an initiative to boost technology transfer, the NIST is creating Centers of Excellence that will put $20 million up for grabs through a grant program aimed at research and development and the commercialization of cyber-related technologies.

At the same time, a multitude of business incubators in the state already exist, and many are heating up with cyber-related activity. University of Maryland, Baltimore County-based bwtech@UMBC, for example, has about 25 startup companies in its Cyber Incubator and another 16 that are slightly further down the path.

As technology advances and the federal government works to pass comprehensive legislation on cybersecurity, the Maryland legislature has been proactive, doing what it can to prevent cyber attacks internally while also fostering the continued development of the cybersecurity industry in Maryland.

State Delegate Susan Lee (District 16-Montgomery County), who was instrumental in creating and served as co-chair of the Identity Theft Task Force, spearheaded the creation of the Maryland Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence. The commission’s twofold mission is to review the state’s cyber laws and policies and to develop strategies that protect against future cyber attacks, while also helping spur cybersecurity innovation and job creation. Senator Catherine F. Pugh (District 40, Baltimore City) is the Senate co-chair of the commission.

The commission draws on the expertise of the cybersecurity industry, higher education institutions, consumer and victim protection groups, and other state and federal officials to accomplish its goals. UMUC was chosen to staff the commission and support its work.

“Technology is advancing very quickly, but so are the people involved in cyber crimes and terrorism,” said Lee. “We need to move just as fast, or faster, than they do. We will work with Congress to fill in the gaps that exist in federal and state laws and to advance state and federal cyber protection issues.”

The University System of Maryland (USM) has also taken a leadership role in ensuring that higher education is adding to the state’s research and development environment, developing workforcerelevant cybersecurity programs, and producing the intellectual capital needed by industry.

A Cyber Security Task Force convened by USM Chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan generated a report in 2011 that serves as a roadmap for the system’s institutions. As the industry evolves, the task force recommended that USM expand the number of cybersecurity and information assurance offerings and establish more government and private-sector partnerships, while continuing to strengthen research and support innovation and technology transfer in cybersecurity. These goals have been incorporated into USM’s 2020 strategic plan, “Powering Maryland Forward.”

Among USM institutions, UMUC has been at the forefront of responding to urgent workforce needs in cybersecurity. UMUC’s Cyber Think Tank, which includes experts from the military, government, and industry, was created to guide the development of cyber programs that are now some of the most popular academic offerings at the university. Most of these courses are taught online by adjunct faculty who are professionals in the field.

Not surprisingly, enrollments in cybersecurity studies at UMUC have seen exponential growth in the past two years, and more than 5,200 students are currently enrolled. Quality and talent are outstanding, as evidenced by the team of UMUC cybersecurity students who have won numerous competitions that demand skills in network defense, data forensics, and more.

“Cyber is a ‘big tent’ term,” said Greg von Lehmen, senior vice president at UMUC and staff director for the state Commission on Cybersecurity Innovation and Excellence. “It covers a range of problems, from those involving individual security (i.e. protecting various types of personal information) to larger ones affecting our economic competitiveness and national security. When creating a workforce, we have to think about the variety of specializations that come together to do the work, from mathematics to any number of computer, network, and software-related disciplines.”

UMUC , which recently added a new program in digital forensics, is working with the Defense Cyber Crimes Center (DC3), the largest digital forensics laboratory in the United States, to develop a pipeline of trained investigators.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of higher education in Maryland,” said von Lehmen of the developments at UMUC and other USM institutions. While UMBC houses the Cybersecurity Incubator, the University of Maryland, College Park, is home to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency and in 2010 created the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), which partners with government and industry to provide educational programs and develop innovative cybersecurity technologies.

“Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,” exhorts one verse in “Maryland, My Maryland.” It may not have been written with the cybersecurity industry in mind, but it seems fitting as Maryland establishes itself as the epicenter of the industry today.