The Washington Post

Contractors vie for edge in cybersecurity race

The cybersecurity arms race is ramping up.

In this case, it’s contractors that are eager to show off an increasingly expansive set of capabilities ready for government use. Many contractors have erected cyber-focused centers near Fort Meade — home to both the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command — but some are now going a step farther. McLean-based Booz Allen Hamilton, for instance, last week launched a “cyber solutions network” that links together nine cyber-focused facilities, while Falls Church-based General Dynamics said it is adding another cyber facility in Annapolis Junction.

As federal spending tightens, contractors are increasingly looking to cybersecurity to provide a growth market. At a briefing earlier this month on the Pentagon’s new military strategy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta vowed to protect and potentially increase the government’s spending on cyberspace capabilities.

Booz Allen’s new network of cyber centers, all of which have their own focus, includes four sites in Maryland, four in Northern Virginia and one in New Jersey. A Fort Meade site specializes in cyber, forensics and malware analytics, while a Red Bank, N.J., center focuses on mobile response and modeling and simulation, among other areas.

Booz Allen “wanted to have a cyber center that was responsive to our client needs and requirements but also that would be a bit different from what we have seen some of our competitors do,” said Joseph W. Mahaffee, chief information security officer at Booz Allen. “Candidly, we haven’t seen anyone else try to create this type of networked environment that involves many centers.”

Mahaffee said the company plans to expand the network to a larger number of sites.

General Dynamics last week opened a 28,000-square-foot facility, which will house 100 cyber employees — some new and some drawn from other locations. The office is in the same development as an Annapolis Junction facility, opened in 2002, that focuses on cyber work.

Nadia Short, vice president of strategic planning for General Dynamics’s advanced information systems business, said the company’s cyber facilities in Annapolis Junction, which is near Fort Meade, are also linked to other company facilities across the country.

Other cyber competitors too said last week that they are not limited by their brick-and-mortar cyber facilities. Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin has two local cyber-focused centers, but also depends on virtual connections, said Charles Croom, vice president of cyber security solutions in Lockheed’s information systems and global services unit.

“It’s not about whether it’s physical or virtual, it’s about what you do with it,” he said.

He and Larry Cox, general manager of Science Applications International Corp.’s cyber and information solutions business, said physical centers have proven effective in attracting government officials.

Cox of SAIC, which opened its own cyber center near Fort Meade in late 2010, said the facility also brings together cybersecurity-focused employees and interns in a collaborative environment.

The heightened interest in cybersecurity from a whole range of companies comes as no surprise to Short, who said General Dynamics reaps about $2 billion annually in cyber-related revenue.

The government’s focus on funding the area “brings more competition,” Short said. “It’s just kind of how the world works.”



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