Virginia launches Semper Secure, cybersecurity initiative


Following an earlier move by Maryland, Virginia has launched its own cybersecurity initiative called Semper Secure. The initiative will support the growth of the state’s cybersecurity economy, and like Maryland, be supported by a partnership with Northrop Grumman.

Funded collaboratively by Virginia and industry, Semper Secure will focus on the development issues in cyber security: ensuring workforce preparedness and availability, advancing educational programs and knowledge base, fostering entrepreneurship, and encouraging global engagement. The partnership will spearhead a host of activities including research, digital engagement, and conferences targeted at building an initiative to expand Virginia’s cyber security expertise and industry.

The Commonwealth is also home to numerous federally funded research and development centers, Department of Defense research centers, and key leap-ahead technology agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This initiative will add a boost to those organizations and build out a bigger community of professionals and researchers.

Semper Secure will have an independent board of directors – including cyber security leaders from government and industry – to steer the partnership, define the specific activities, and report back to the governor annually. The Virginia secretary of technology will serve as chairman of the board. MeriTalk, a Virginia-based government IT research analyst, publisher, and event producer, will manage the program through its IT security community, the MeriTalk Cyber Security Exchange. Another early supporter of the Semper Secure initiative is NetApp, a Silicon Valley company, with U.S. Public Sector headquarters in Virginia.

In Maryland, the cybersecurity initiative follows the same public-private-partnerhsip model and also seeks to expand the academic community around these issues. Governor O’Malley is also offering tax incentives for private companies focused on cybersecurity.

Both initiatives are reflective of the rapid and expansive growth around the Washington DC area following 9/11 and the expansion of wars overseas. Developments in cybersecurity economies in both states also reflect new realities about the full-scale of cyber attacks on the US and its interests in recent months.

“Cyber security is the looming justice and national security concern of the coming decade,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.