By VARUN SAXENA
WASHINGTON (February 21, 2012)—In an effort to fight what Sen. Barbara Mikulski described as the "new enduring war" against "hate-hackers," Maryland officials announced Thursday a plan to create the National Cyber Center of Excellence for Cyber Security in Montgomery County.
The new center will be developed in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Mikulski, D-Md., secured $10 million in federal funding for the initiative.
Speaking at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Mikulski stressed the seriousness of the threat posed by hackers on "not only our state secrets, but our trade secrets," and said the center will help keep digital data secure from other nation-states.
"America is under attack," she said, warning that America stands ready to retaliate.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett praised Mikulksi for securing federal funding for the initiative.
"She's hot. She's on fire. She's the cyber warrior," said Brown, referring to Mikulksi.
The center is part of an effort to make Maryland the leader in cybersecurity.
Since January 2010, nearly 800 new cybersecurity jobs have been created in Maryland, according to a report issued by the state government. The planned Cyber Center of Excellence will bring 23 jobs.
The speakers also praised the state's highly educated workforce and the state universities' efforts to train students in cybersecurity. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland University College have recently added cybersecurity degree programs. UMBC also offers nondegree training programs on cybersecurity to working professionals, said Kent Malwitz, a vice president at UMBC.
"The University of Maryland and its campuses, Morgan, Bowie, and UMBC, are developing the best cybersecurity workforce in the world," said Mikulski.
The Center for Excellence will focus on "tech transfer," said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.
That means it will encourage private companies to learn about and apply the public sectors cybersecurity advances to their own products and applications. The center is meant to enable cooperation between companies and between the public and private centers, as well as academia.
Mikulski said that she doesn't want Maryland companies to resemble Kodak.
The company invented the digital camera, but the invention "sat on a shelf," she said.
Now Kodak is in bankruptcy proceedings because others commercialized the digital camera and undermined Kodak's traditional photography business.
The creation of the National Cyber Center of Excellence for Cyber Security fulfills a goal identified in a 2010 strategic report on cybersecurity in Maryland prepared by the Gov. Martin O'Malley administration.