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County Exec Calls for Cybersecurity Funding on 9/11

As first responders and community members gathered for a moment of silence on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Anne Arundel's county executive focused on what he said he sees as the next great threat.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold focused his remarks at a on Tuesday on the importance of cybersecurity.

"Cyberterrorism will shut down our electrical grids, shut down our air-traffic-control system, shut down our financial networks," Leopold said. "We spend $4 billion on cyberdefense in this country, which is less than what we spend on agricultural subsidies. We need to do more."

He called Anne Arundel County the epicenter of national security effort to combat cyberterrorism because of U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade. 

In 2011, Patch reported on an increase in congestion around Fort Meade as thousands of new workers commuted to the area on a daily basis. And in 2012, discrepancies between how the White House and the National Security Agency viewed Cyber Command cast doubts on how many new jobs would indeed by coming to the county.

"We need a recognition by all citizens of this county of how important protecting our information systems is to the safety of our nation," Leopold said. "I hope that all the other states will recognize the importance of helping provide the needed infrastructure and other needs that are required at Fort Meade."

The  announced it is working to develop a Cyber Operations major and, in 2010, the academy set a goal of building a $100 million Cyber Security Studies center by 2014, according to The Capital Gazette.

Leopold also focused on the expansion of cybersecurity classes at Anne Arundel Community College. The college's board of trustees expanded the number of classes offered in the field by leasing a new location near Arundel Mills. That expansion opened in August at the start of the fall semester.

Leopold said he would like to see these programs expanded even further, and he hopes that money from the Maryland Live! casino will be used to expand the community college's STEM program.

"I want to see that beefed up," Leopold said. "There are at least 2,000 job openings—if not more—in this county in this field, and that means we haven't done a good job of matching the skills with the openings that exist."

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