After only a few weeks on the job, the energy, vibrancy and innovation that surrounds everything cyber in Maryland has been remarkably apparent. I have met with startups, small companies and large, and everything in between. Each is characterized by a drive to make a difference, to offer a product or service that will allow their customers — private or public — to deal with the ever-growing, increasingly complex threat arising from cyber criminals, cyber spies and cyber terrorists.  Our networks are under constant attack here and around the world.

Maryland cyber companies are rising to the occasion and bringing the intellectual capital gained from years of work with the National Security Agency and other federal agencies, applying those skills to help the financial, retail, health, insurance and manufacturing sectors, among others, deal with the threat and protect their data (and ours). Cyber companies are coming together in organizations like the Cyber Association of Maryland Inc., CyberMaryland and the Cyber Business Roundtable to network, partner, collaborate and advocate for the needs of the industry.

They are optimistic, driven, committed, and incredibly innovative and creative. We will work to empower them.

Maryland’s institutions of higher learning have responded to the demand generated by these businesses and the government, and are producing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals that is so desperately needed to carry on the fight against increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

According to Robert Caret, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, the number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors in the system has increased by 50% during the last few years, showing that the efforts in K–12 education are beginning to bear fruit. Our community colleges are creating cyber institutes to both train and educate the workforce of today and tomorrow. Our research universities are contributing new ideas and sophisticated solutions to vexing problems.

The National Cyber Center of Excellence is now operating at Montgomery College, partnering with the National Institute of Standards and Testing (NIST), the state of Maryland and the college to conduct research and development in the area of cybersecurity, producing use cases that establish best practices to meet specific challenges faced by different sectors of the economy. With a new facility about to open featuring 27 labs, the work that is going to come out of this facility is going to be a difference maker in helping Maryland, and the nation, meet the cyberthreat.

I look forward to meeting with all of you engaged in the important work of cybersecurity. Maryland views this as a strategic industry in the state, not only because of its significance to national security, but because of the capacity of this industry to create meaningful, high-paying jobs capable of raising the prosperity of our state and its citizens.

We are committed to growing the cybersecurity sector and marking Maryland as being at the epicenter of developing the tools and services that will protect our increasingly connected world from those who would turn it toward their evil purposes.

Know that CyberMaryland is most assuredly open for business.

Ken McCreedy is the senior director, cybersecurity and aerospace, with the Maryland Department of Commerce. He can be contacted at 410-767-6379 and [email protected].