In 'cyber' Maryland, a bid for business growth
Business leaders try to leverage federal installations to spur on commercial ventures
Zuly Gonzalez and Beau Adkins used to work at the National Security Agency. Now they run a cybersecurity firm in Catonsville, helping companies defend against online threats.
They're the embodiment of why Maryland officials call the state the nation's "epicenter" of cybersecurity: big federal installations here that focus on cyber problems, and all the private-sector growth related to it.
It's no surprise then that much of the activity revolves around the government. But some groups and firms are trying to push the state's cybersecurity boundaries to grab more of the commercial market at a time of tighter federal budgets.
Light Point Security, the startup Gonzalez and Adkins founded, is one example.
"We've made a business decision to really focus on the commercial side first before going strong after the government — because we come from the government and we know what a hassle it is to get into the government," said Gonzalez, Light Point's chief operating officer. "It's got such a long sale cycle."
As criminal activity and warfare move online, protecting information, networks, intellectual property and thecritical infrastructure of everyday life — such as banking channels and power plant controls— is a high-stakes, high-value proposition. It's a sector that state officials have promoted for years, including with a new tax credit, because they want as many cyber jobs as possible to end up here.