Maryland looks to boost cybersecurity profile with new roundtable

February 2

Maryland industry executives and government officials are putting together a cybersecurity roundtable meant to bolster the state’s efforts to become a center for the rapidly growing field.

The roundtable, which will kick off with a meeting later this month, is meant to follow the model set by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable, an organization set up to help aerospace-related businesses in the state as well as handle educational outreach.

Dominick Murray, Maryland’s secretary of business and economic development, said the roundtable was recommended by the state’s Federal Facilities Advisory Board, a group that concentrates on federal employees and offices in Maryland.

He said he welcomed the idea as a way to convene private companies, academic institutions and government groups.

“If we have that kind of cross-section, then we’d be able to provide that forum [in which] challenges can be addressed, opportunities could be expressed,” he said.

Several executives have been tapped to help the state develop the roundtable, including Deborah Bonanni, a former National Security Agency executive; Darrell Durst, vice president of cyber solutions at Lockheed Martin; Belkis Leong-Hong, who heads Gaithersburg-based IT company Knowledge Advantage; Leonard E. Moodispaw, chief executive of Hanover-based cybersecurity company KEYW; and Richard Schaeffer, also a former NSA executive.

An early meeting is slated for Feb. 10, where participates hope to recommend officials and executives to join the group.

As cybersecurity becomes an increasing focus for government agencies and private businesses alike, Maryland, home to both the NSA and the military’s U.S. Cyber Command, has tried to seize the opportunity.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2010 established a CyberMaryland initiative, meant to coordinate the state’s marketing to raise its cybersecurity profile.

Moodispaw said he was eager to help get the new group off the ground. “I really believe in the story that Maryland has the heart of cyber-technology,” he said.

He wants the roundtable to help state universities produce more tailored training and figure out ways to better assist start-ups.

Murray said he’d like the roundtable to consider ways to help graduates of Maryland universities stay in state after completing their degree, rather than going elsewhere.

He said the roundtable will help “develop and incubate this industry so that we can, in fact, be the cyber center of excellence here in this state.”

But Maryland isn’t the only state clamoring to play a growing part in the industry. Virginia-based groups, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council, have made cybersecurity a key focus.

Last year, former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced the opening of the Mach37, a cyber accelerator, meant to speed the expansion of cybersecurity companies in the commonwealth.

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