Port Covington, Maryland. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

The Cyber-Hub War Is On: Maryland Aims To Become Global Headquarters

Cities and states across the country are vying for a piece of the booming market for securing technology and data. Many are calling it “the great cyber gold rush.”

Mike Janke, Co-Founder, DataTribe

Port Covington, Md. — Jan. 24, 2019

Maryland is the world’s epicenter of cybersecurity engineering talent, and the most logical headquarters for U.S. cyber defense.

The global cybersecurity industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively from 2017 to 2021. Texas, California, New York, Maryland, Florida and other states are all in a race for the crown to become the global cybersecurity hub. Data protection and cybersecurity are at the top of the priority list for most of the world’s businesses, governments and organizations.

Cybercrime damages are predicted to cost the work $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. Cybercrime remains far too easy, since many technology products lack adequate defenses, while cybercriminals use both simple and advanced technology to identify targets, automate software creation and delivery, and monetization of what they steal.

The global modern battlefield has moved from tanks and planes to digital bombs and cyberattacks. A large number of the world’s nations use their vast defense and intelligence efforts to steal an economic advantage through the theft of data. Demand for new cybersecurity solutions is also growing exponentially, and the business and employment opportunities in this industry are enormous. This is a tremendous time to be involved with cyber and data science innovation, and the biggest institutional investors in the world are taking note.

With 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021 (up from 1 million in 2014), hundreds of major and smaller universities are scrambling to offer cybersecurity degrees and the race to win has intensified. Several major U.S. cities and even Israel are racing to invest billions and build out massive commercial cybersecurity hubs, all vying to attract the world’s best commercial cybersecurity talent and startups. Its prize is massive economic growth and a talent engine that can fuel these cities’ growth for decades to come. CyberNYC is building a cyber army through five new startup programs. There are established cybersecurity ecosystems in Boston, San Antonio and Silicon Valley, and new hotspots on the rise in Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. But the largest population of talent and the fastest growing green-field environment in information technology is actually located in Maryland.

Maryland is home to over 40 government agencies including the National Security Agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Defense Information Systems Agency, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, USCYBERCOM, NASA and DoD Cyber Crime Center, among others. Maryland is also home to the world’s deepest reservoir of cyber-focused engineering talent, including some of the most popular commercial cybersecurity companies in the world such as Tenable, Gemalto, Dragos, Sonatype, ForcePoint and local company Sourcefire was sold to Cisco for $2.7 billion. With more than 150,000 cyber-related engineering and data science professionals, Maryland has the #1 cyber workforce in the world, and leads the U.S. in cyber employment for classified nation-state jobs. There is a groundswell of innovation in certain deep technology disciplines taking place within government labs, producing cutting edge technology with enormous commercialization potential. 

The parallels between Silicon Valley leveraging the massive government innovation investments at Stanford and Berkeley in support of WWII and those similarly-sized investments that have been made in cybersecurity and data science innovation here in Maryland are striking and compelling. We have an opportunity for growth in this area that mirrors what Silicon Valley looked like 50 years ago. Our challenge is building an integrated ecosystem that knows how to leverage that expertise and those resources into commercial success.

Maryland is the first state to set up its own cyber investing arm directly from its budget coffers as well as the first Governor (Hogan) to make cybersecurity the number one focus of the state due to its vast technical resources. But building critical mass takes more than opportunity. It takes conviction, commitment and the relationships and resources to ensure sustainability — and it needs a physical place where they can all come together: Cybertown USA. Maryland is in the process of building the largest cybersecurity hub in the world at Port Covington, Md.

It makes sense, for so many reasons.

First, Maryland has the largest concentration of university-trained cyber engineering graduates in the world. With more than 7,000 graduates in computer and data science in 2018 alone, while boasting the largest concentration of STEM professionals in the U.S., Maryland is the #1 cyber education state in the country, with 17 NSA/DHS Centers of Academic Excellence. Maryland has more nationally recognized colleges designated as Cyber Centers of Excellence than any other state. Our degree-granting universities have awarded 10,000 bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity-related programs since 2015.

Second, it is much less expensive to build a company in Maryland than it is in New York, Boston or California. Maryland has a compelling tax environment, affordable real estate, and one of the “highest quality of life” ratings in the country. With Cyber Town USA now breaking ground at Port Covington and with over 30 cybersecurity firms moving in on day one in 2020, Maryland will overnight have the largest concentration of cybersecurity firms in the world. The entire 45 city blocks of Port Covington is one of the largest waterfront redevelopment projects in the world. This is a remarkable move that demonstrates what can happen when state and city governments, partnered with private sector technology and land development companies, can work seamlessly to tackle the largest cybersecurity hub project in the world.

Our mission is to make Port Covington the worldwide headquarters for our nation’s cyber defense, and a hub for data science and innovation in general. This is an enormous project that has amassed some of the best minds in the country to make it happen, including a number of high-profile venture capitalists, real estate developers and business leaders, in collaboration with the offices of Governor Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore. Part of Port Covington’s appeal to cybersecurity firms is that it has been built from the ground up with a cybersecurity hardened infrastructure, including a secure redundant fiber optic loop, which will provide reliable, state-of-the-art, gigabit speed internet connectivity and site-wide public Wi-Fi service. Port Covington will also support robust security efforts throughout the project and facilitate technology development as the project matures.

Are you curious about how Maryland might be able to support your cybersecurity efforts? Contact us here: http://www.marylandcyberworks.com/contact.html

Mike Janke is a former member of SEAL Team 6 and a successful serial entrepreneur, having founded six companies including DataTribe, a technology startup studio based in MD and Palo Alto, and Blue Pacific Studios, a Los Angeles-based Film & Media Production Company he co-founded with Daniel Weinand, co-founder of Shopify. In addition to co-founding DataTribe, Mike is the co-founder of Silent Circle and Blackphone, two of the world’s leading Global Secure Communications companies. Previously, Mike was the founder and former CEO of SOC-USA, one of the country’s largest defense logistics and security firms headquartered in Washington DC, with over 8,000 employees in 14 countries. Mike is also an author of two best-selling books on self-discipline, leadership, and performance (Take Control & Power Living). He sits on the board of 4 other technology firms. He is a sought-after speaker on the topics of Privacy, Cyber Security, and Encryption and is the 2016 recipient of the “Visionary of the Year” awarded by the Center for Technology & Democracy.