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Protection in the digital age: Can collaboration strengthen cyber in Maryland?

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What does “cyber” really mean, and how can we marry the mission and the market to contribute meaningfully to Maryland’s influence in cyber technology?

Those were the questions at the heart of the Maryland Cybersecurity Roundtable co-hosted by the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc., the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

“Cyber links into so much more than technology that’s abstract to most people,” said Maryland Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Kelly Thompson Clark. “It pulls in everything from business to workforce development to education and more.”

Indeed, experts from energy, higher education, national security, and economic development organizations as well as chambers of commerce throughout the state, met to start outlining individual and statewide goals and objectives for cybersecurity.

Cyber is a complex industry, not only because of the technology and geopolitical implications, but also because it’s become two-pronged: a mission–to protect security from a geopolitical perspectiveand a market—to create jobs and construct educational curricula.

Somewhere in the programming, though, there’s an ironic disconnect.

There are dozens of cybersecurity and national security agencies and companies in Maryland, many of which are under government contracts. CAMI Executive Director Stacey Smith pointed out that cybersecurity offers the highest earning employment opportunity in the state. The need for protection is high; some estimates project that global cybercrime costs will reach $6 trillion by 2021—double the cost in 2015.

But cyber firms say they can’t find potential employees with the skill sets they need, and some experts say that the competition within such a small state for relatively meager research, development and support funding is so fierce that Maryland is working against itself.

The roundtable brought up issues like the conflict between the information flood and the need for context and relevance; one firm’s hack is not like another’s, so the fix—and the firewall—can’t be the same. The group also discussed the difference between defending with cybertechnology and defending from cybertechnology, including legislation and regulations that sometimes make those things illegal.

With the strengths and experts already in the state, solution-focused collaboration and innovation is what will make Maryland attractive for cyber experts. The roundtable may have been a step in the right direction that the Chamber fully supports.

“The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is committed to convening leaders from around the state to establish common goals for creating a healthier economy, retaining quality jobs, and developing Marylanders’ careers so that Maryland is the most attractive state to live and work in,” said Maryland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Christine Ross.

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