The state’s trifecta of cybersecurity initiatives in the public, private and educational sectors cement Georgia’s status as a global cybersecurity hub.
While October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, it’s doubtful that any of us need a reminder about the world’s fastest growing security threat.
These days, it’s impossible to turn on the news without hearing about another cyber crime, which occurs every 39 seconds. Along with this growing threat, the nation is facing a severe cybersecurity labor shortage, predicted to hit 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021.
From Atlanta’s booming tech ecosystem to the new Army Cyber Command in Augusta and education initiatives across the state, Georgia is answering the call to become a leader in this rapidly growing industry. The state is equipped to help tackle the most critical cybersecurity issues the world will face today, tomorrow and for years to come.
Top State for Cyber
In June, Business Facilities magazine ranked Georgia among the top 10 states for both cybersecurity jobs and workforce training. This is no surprise for those on the ground in Augusta, home of Army Cyber Command and the new Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, a $100-million complex in downtown Augusta.
“Georgia has a cross-section of both private-sector and public-sector involvement in cyber activity,” says Matt Forshee, Georgia Power’s Community Development Manager in the East Region. “We have the private sector and the research that’s been going on here for a couple of decades and the already-established Army plan for cyber activity, which creates an opportunity for workforce and investment in cyber.”
Building Upon a Well-Established IT Foundation
Georgia is home to more than 250 information security firms that generate upwards of $5 billion annually. Beyond cybersecurity, the state’s robust technology community is made up of nearly 18,000 tech companies and 349,700 employees.
Cybersecurity is a natural extension of Georgia’s well-established technology ecosystem, which boasts connectivity through 500,000 fiber-optic lines, resources like the Center of Innovation for Information Technology and a robust tech talent pool.
The Public Sector Takes Root
In 2013, the Army announced the move and consolidation of its Cyber Command Headquarters to Augusta’s Fort Gordon. More than $2 billion will be invested in facility improvements, and nearly 5,000 high-tech military personnel will be relocated to Augusta by Army Cyber Command’s opening in 2020.
“We see a great opportunity for the future workforce,” says Forshee. “We’ll have trained cybersecurity professionals coming out of the Army who can immediately go into employment with either government contractors or private corporate entities who need high-level cybersecurity employees.”
Building upon the Army’s cyber investment in the region, the state-owned Georgia Cyber Center, developed with the Defense Department and the National Security Agency, recently opened phase one in Augusta.
The $100-million state-of-the-art facility for both public and private industries is a center for cybersecurity education, research, training and operations. It will be home to a cyber range, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s new cybercrime unit and an incubator for startup cybersecurity companies. Lease space for private sector cyber related industries will also be available.
Training the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Experts
Across the state, Georgia’s higher education institutions are preparing students to fill a critical need in this growing industry. Ranked number two in the nation for cybersecurity programs, Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy boasts 13 labs and centers dedicated to cybersecurity.
A couple of hours north, the University of North Georgia, home of the Center for Cyber Operations Education, is offering a new Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, along with a graduate certificate in cybersecurity.
Back in the booming eastern region, Augusta University just announced the creation of Georgia’s first Cybersecurity Engineering degree program (one of only a handful in the country), along with two new degrees in cyber operations and cybersecurity.
The city of Augusta has even launched cyber programs in local high schools and middle schools. “We’re already looking at how do we train kids today, so that by the time they’re of working age and ready to find a job, they’ve got the education and the skillset needed to take these kinds of positions,” says Forshee.
Georgia Power is at the heart of the state’s efforts to shape the future of cybersecurity across the globe. Beyond powering the Georgia Cyber Center and Army Cyber Command, we’re proud to partner with communities across the state to ensure success in these crucial efforts.