Cyber Attacks and Warriors

Maryland Cyber Conference 2017 overview

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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month and Maryland is sharing its commitment to educating the next generation of cyber warriors to protect our local, regional and national economy from attacks!

Frederick City and County Economic Development staff recently attended the annual Cyber Maryland Conference held on October 11-12, 2017 at the Baltimore Convention Center.  With over 90 exhibitors and 25 informational sessions, this event attracted top-tier talent sharing all of the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in the cyber security industry.

Maryland – Cyber Capital of the Country

Governor Hogan addressed Cyber Maryland 2017 Conference attendees and shared that the unprecedented growth of the cyber industry is helping us to drive an economic resurgence in Maryland. Hogan mentioned that Maryland is home to the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, sixty government agencies, military installations and over 1,200 private sector cyber companies. Senator Chris Van Hollen shared that Congress hopes to incentivize the development of cyber defenses. Both concurred on the importance of both the private and public sectors proactively working together to address the need for improved cyber security infrastructure.

Governor Hogan speaking at the 2017 Cyber Maryland Coference

Governor Hogan speaking at the 2017 Cyber Maryland Coference

Cyber-attacks on the rise

Think your business is too small to be a target? Or maybe you think your information is just not that unique or valuable?  Think again! According to Symatec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, 43% of all small businesses are attacked via phishing campaigns.

According to Maryland Cyber Conference keynote speaker Captain Ed Devinney, US Navy with the United State Cyber Command, as a country, our reliance on networks is growing exponentially and perhaps our greatest threat is overreliance.  He shared that our country continues to fight many battles and our cyber warriors are at the forefront of our defense to protect the integrity of our economy and our world.

Captain Ed Devinney, US Navy with the United State Cyber Command

Captain Ed Devinney, US Navy with the United State Cyber Command

Cyber security is sometimes a low priority for small businesses and the ramifications that come from a data breach are often overlooked.  According to Maria Seale, CEO and Founder of the National Cyber Security Society, companies need to equip themselves with available resources.   Of the 28.8 million small businesses in this country, 90% do not have any cyber security policies in place.  

For small businesses, it can be a bit overwhelming where to begin. Seale shared a list of Cyber Security resources for Small Businesses

Of course, she offered a few proactive steps that every business can take:

  1.   Assess – Conduct an honest assessment of your company

  2. Create a plan – This is essential to take your security needs to the next level

  3. Commit Resources – The cost of a data breach could put a small business out of business

  4. Join a network or committee – There are trade associations and informational groups

  5. Engage your workforce and lead by example - Practice “safe” computing

Cyber warriors wanted

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The bottom line is there are jobs, lots of jobs!  At the Cyber Maryland Conference, industry experts stated that there are over 200,000 cyber security jobs openings and the industry simply can’t fill the positions.  Recruitment and retention of top cyber talent is critical in an age of cyberattacks!  So, how does the market fill the void?  There were significant discussions about implementing a more hand-on apprenticeship type of program model.     According to various panels at the conference, employers should be encouraged to offer more experiential learning.   Several presenters at the conference shared their opinions that there needs to be a greater emphasis on problem solving and not just memorization in training programs.  Further, the panels concurred that educators need to start implementing more STEM curriculum for students in elementary and middle schools.  The consensus was that it will take an entire ecosystem to address the changes necessary to rectify this challenge. 

In the City of Frederick, both Frederick Community College and Hood College offer options for cyber warriors in training!  FCC has an award-winning two-year program for Cyber Security.  According to Andy Yao, Ph.D., Program Manager, Computer & Information Sciences (CIS) and Cybersecurity at FCC, classes were first offered in Cyber Security at FCC in 2015.  The program currently has about 445 students pursuing a Cybersecurity degree.   This program received the Career and Technology Outstanding Postsecondary CTE Program of Excellence award from Maryland State Department of Education in 2016.

After offering a graduate Cybersecurity Certificate for over seven years, Hood College recently created of a full Master's program in Cybersecurity launched in fall of 2017. When asked about opportunities for future program graduates, George Dimitoglou, Ph.D., Director, Cybersecurity Program stated, “The job outlook is phenomenal. The regional need for highly trained cybersecurity professionals is enormous. There are over 60,000 unfilled positions in the two major metropolitan Mid-Atlantic areas (Baltimore, DC) alone.”

Hood College Graduate School’s master's program in cybersecurity  prepares its students in high demand areas like ethical hacking, cryptography and computer forensics. Dimioglou shared that “Organizations now understand that cybersecurity is not just another task they can add-on to the tasks of their current IT staff, but a separate distinct and important role. Professionals in these roles need to be educated, not just trained, so they gain deep understanding and critical thinking skills to be able to independently learn and understand issues and threats as they present themselves.”  Hood College is now accepting applications for the spring semester.