I read a Washington Post blog recently calling 2013 the year of cybersecurity. While the year saw a profusion of data breaches and leaks, it’s more accurate to call 2013 the year of cyber violations – not cybersecurity. I think it’s more likely that 2014 will be the year of cyber solutions – maybe the year that we as a nation get serious about protecting our data and systems.
While some great companies like McAfee are at the forefront of cyber protection, there’s a state that’s also distinguishing itself as the home of cybersecurity solutions. That’s Maryland, right across the Potomac from RH’s DC office and home to some of us. There’s no question that Virginia houses many great technology companies, but Maryland has often been in its shadow. That’s beginning to change.
Last week Maryland Delegate Susan Lee invited me to a reception for the Maryland Commission on Cyber Innovation and Excellence, and, despite the snow storm, I attended. The event left no doubt that Maryland both sees itself and intends to grow its image as a cybersecurity leader. The U.S. representatives who attended the reception – Reps. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and John Delaney (D-MD) – were equally bullish on the state’s intention to grow as a cybersecurity hub. And Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has long been a proponent of national security and cyber innovation.
The state, after all, is home to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) US Cyber Command and the University of Maryland University College’s undergraduate and graduate programs in cybersecurity. In addition, the Technology Council of Maryland now has a track devoted to cyber, augmenting the state’s and the council’s prevailing expertise in biotech. As someone who’s represented cybersecurity companies in public affairs for 12+ years, I love this development: a cyber hub in my own backyard.
Tomorrow I’m headed to the 2014 Cybersecurity Innovation Forum sponsored by industry with U.S. government partners NIST, NSA and the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a major three-day conference taking place not in D.C., but in Baltimore, MD. We invited several members of the media to attend, in support of NIST and our clients, and I’ll be there at the Baltimore Convention Center connecting them with clients who are featured on the program.
Ironically, last week I met a well-known cybersecurity practitioner who’s now working for one of our clients. When I asked him where he lives, he responded “Maryland,” adding, “That’s the place for cyber.”
I return to my claim that 2014 will be a major year for cybersecurity solutions. I expect companies all over the country to be contributing to this infusion of expertise. There’s a huge amount of work to be done, no matter where it takes place, but I’m betting that Maryland will continue to distinguish itself as the place for cyber.