Federal Government Stepping Up to Coordinate State Cybersecurity Efforts

May 22, 2013

Threats to America's cybersecurity continue to make headlines, underscoring the growing importance of protecting our country's digital infrastructure. As national security experts continue to grapple with how to address the challenge, the federal government is stepping up to coordinate state cybersecurity efforts. In an effort to promote our country's economic security and boost innovation and competitiveness, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with states and the private sector to develop a framework for national cybersecurity standards. States are capitalizing on the increased coordination to build public-private partnerships that seed industry growth.

The impact of cyber crime on innovation is devastating. U.S. industry losses of intellectual property to data theft in 2008 alone amounted to as much as $1 trillion, according to the Department of Commerce. In May 2009, President Obama accepted the recommendations of the Department of Homeland Security's Cyberspace Policy Review, which included the appointment of a Cybersecurity Coordinator who can work with state and local governments as well as the private sector to coordinate a national cybersecurity strategy. Key elements of a national strategy involve focusing investment in R&D, expanding cyber education opportunities nationwide and strengthening public-private partnerships at all levels of government to develop technology solutions that will protect U.S. economic security.

To promote state involvement in promoting the country's cybersecurity NIST is developing a framework for industry standards that has been supported by the National Governors Association and is planning the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence as a new Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). While NIST continues to solicit recommendations from stakeholders, states are working with federal partners to seed the growth of regional cybersecurity industries.

Maryland is currently a state leader in developing its cybersecurity industry. In 2010, the O'Malley administration launched the CyberMaryland Initiative, bringing together federal, state, and local government, private business, academia, and the IT workforce to promote the state's role as a leader in the cybersecurity industry. Maryland counts over 11,000 companies that work on the development of products and services related to cybersecurity. In the FY 2014 budget, lawmakers approved a $3 million investment to create a Cybersecurity Tax Credit to promote the growth of the state's cybersecurity industry. The credit is modeled after the state's successful Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit and provides a 33 percent refundable credit for qualified investors in seed and early stage cybersecurity companies. Gov. O'Malley also announced the appointment of a Director of Cyber Development to improve state-level coordination. Fifteen Maryland colleges and universities have been designated Centers for Academic Excellence by the National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2012, more than 3,000 students graduated from Maryland colleges and universities with degrees in Computer and Information Science, an increase of 11 percent since 2006.

In Northern Virginia, Mach37 is a new cybersecurity accelerator housed in the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) that recently received a $2.5 million grant from state lawmakers. Mach37 will recruit regional cybersecurity startups and connect them with cybersecurity professionals, investors, and technologists with the goal of launching 10 new companies per year. (See the May 1, 2013 issue of the Digest)

Proximity to the Capital Beltway is not a prerequisite for states to assume leadership in the development of the cybersecurity industry. Michigan also is considered a leader in cybersecurity. The Michigan Cyber Range was launched in November 2012, a state facility co-managed by the Merit Network, federal and local partners, state colleges and universities, and the private sector to train Michigan's IT workforce in cyber-crime prevention and detection. The Range is part of the Michigan Cybersecurity Initiative, which aims to build public-private partnerships that can bolster the state's growing cybersecurity industry. Also in the Midwest, the governor of Illinois recently launched a Cybersecurity Challenge to recruit and train thousands of IT professionals in an attempt to bolster the state's cybersecurity industry.

As states continue to seed the growth of the cybersecurity industry, the federal government will focus on promoting industry innovation and working towards securing a global framework for cybersecurity that mirrors the role of facilitating global trade along with existing international laws and trade agreements. Creating a regulatory environment for citizens, businesses, and government that protects access to online data will strengthen U.S. economic security and boost innovation and competitiveness.

Maryland, Michigan, Virginiafederal agency, white house, cybersecurity, nist