ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Martin O’Malley and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., signed an agreement Tuesday with local officials to expand a public-private cybersecurity technology partnership that will be located in Rockville.
The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, which aims to create solutions to cybersecurity issues for corporations, consumers and other entities, is currently on the campus of the Universities at Shady Grove.
The center was established in 2012 and is heavily funded by the federal government with additional funding by the state and local governments. The state and Montgomery county governments will each pay $4.5 million for the project.
Mikulski secured an additional $15 million from the federal government for the center.
“We want Maryland to be the epicenter for cybersecurity in the United States,” Mikulski said.
In addition to support from the federal, state and local governments, 18 companies, including Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard pledged hardware and software to help the center.
Officials said they hope the security facility will be a job center for the state and a place where the government can effectively interact with the cybersecurity industry.
“All of this growth in the cybersecurity field will need an educated workforce,” said Patrick Gallagher, director of the National Institutes of Standard and Technology.
Mikulski said Maryland’s federal assets, community colleges, public university system and Johns Hopkins University are among the reasons Maryland would make a strong national center for cybersecurity.
Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Executive, signed the agreement and said it is a highly important partnership for creating jobs in Montgomery County.
The signing comes after high-profile cybersecurity incidents, like last year’s cyberattack on the retailer Target. Hackers stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers from the company’s servers, according to Target officials.
Mikulski said hacks like the one on Target, as well as cybersecurity breaches on retailer Neiman Marcus and Michael’s, an arts store chain, are national disasters for the corporations and their credit holders.
“We have to protect dot com,” Mikulski said.
O’Malley said that civilization has worked to control land, water and air, and cybersecurity is the next domain the state plans to increase its investment in.
In addition to signing funding for the center, O’Malley has also proposed increasing the cybersecurity tax credit which are available for cyber start-up businesses from $3 million to $4 million for the next fiscal year.