On January 18 Governor McDonnell announced a new cyber security marketing effort positing Virginia as the best place in the country to start or relocate businesses in the cyber security field. There are over 300 cyber security focused companies in Virginia and they are seeking to grow. The Office of Virginia’s Secretary of Technology casts a vision for this growth in a recently published a booklet titled Virginia’s Innovation Ecosystem: The Trusted Leader in Growing Cyber Security Solutions. They are seeking to build the future cyber security economy based on five key principles: collaboration, coordination, investment, integration, and trust. The root of their success has been integrated leadership between business, educational institutions, and government.

Virginia has garnered over $1 trillion in Federal investment, and the Commonwealth has provided the leading-edge cyber security research necessary to protect the nation’s networks and infrastructure against attack. The Federal Government is the, “wellspring of cyber security policy, funding and technology,” and the booklet claims that Virginia’s proximity makes it the choice environment for the cyber security industry. Evidence of Federal commitment is seen in 30 different initiatives focused on cyber security. Congress has also introduced approximately 50 relevant bills.

The booklet further explains that Virginia’s own experience using cyber security to protect from attack has given the state an unparalleled security posture. Virginia even received the 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award in State Government IT by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. The state has the highest concentration of technology workers and computer science jobs in the nation. Offerings include the following services: network infrastructure, authentication, biometrics, and encryption products.

Virginia’s cyber security industry also serves financial services, utilities, and health care businesses in the private sector. The Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation was established in Arlington, Virginia in 2010 by the largest private professional services organization in the world. The increasing embrace of cloud computing technology means that more data centers are migrating, and Virginia has sought to create a fertile environment by offering tax exemptions and low commercial electricity rates. As a result Virginia has become the trusted home to over 50 data centers.

Community colleges and four-year colleges and universities in the Commonwealth contribute 2,150 technology graduates each year into the labor pool. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have named George Mason University, James Madison University, Norfolk State University, and Virginia Tech as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education or Centers of Excellence in Research.

The booklet concludes that the combination of these resources mixed with Virginia’s pro-business environment makes the Commonwealth a “fertile field” for developing new products and services. Jim Duffey, Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, summarizes the vision of this booklet succinctly; “The rich assets that have made Virginia a leader in innovation and technology are making it the leader in cyber security today and into the future.” Virginia is indeed a thriving ecosystem for the cyber security industry.

Noah works with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and is an evangelical Christian trained in theological studies. He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife and two children. You can follow him at his blog www.noahbraymen.blogspot.com.

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