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Gov. McMaster, UofSC Announce Statewide Cyber Plan

McMaster announced the launch of an initial study to inventory the state's cyber assets, analyze key strengths and gaps, and form a development strategy.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and the University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen announced on Thursday (Feb. 4) an effort to develop a statewide cyber ecosystem— the first step in making South Carolina a highly-competitive player in the cyber industry. South Carolina is already home to many public and private organizations operating in the cyber field, and this strategy will align existing efforts under one unified vision, improving capabilities for stakeholders across the board.

At a State House press conference, McMaster announced the launch of an initial study to inventory the state’s cyber assets, analyze key strengths and gaps, and form a development strategy. The goal of the study will be to survey the state’s existing cyber ecosystem, including verticals in education, investment, defense partnerships, workforce and industry development and public awareness.

Last year, the state held several working sessions with key public and private stakeholders in the cyber industry to discuss an initial vision and goals for this effort. Those stakeholders and others will form a coordinating committee to help guide the study, including to collect the data needed to conduct a proper asset assessment.

“This statewide cyber strategy is an opportunity to develop a cyber ecosystem that trains, attracts, and produces a workforce for the knowledge economy’s high-tech, high-paying jobs,” McMaster said. “Cyber professionals are in high demand, and through these efforts we can make South Carolina one of the nation’s premier cyber hubs.”

The plan will take advantage of existing cyber assets, including the UofSC system, which is leading the state’s cyber policy, legal, and workforce development efforts; Fort Gordon in nearby Augusta, Georgia, home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command and the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence; the Naval Information Warfare Center in Charleston; the Port of Charleston; and the recently announced Savannah River National Laboratory collaborative involving UofSC Columbia and UofSC Aiken.

Improved cyber coordination across the state will lead to better information security and privacy protection for government, industry, and residents. Once the study is completed, a plan will be executed to strengthen cyber capability and capacity through education and workforce development, in turn allowing the state to compete for valuable cyber assets, including workers, investors and companies.

“The university is looks forward to joining government and industry in this critical statewide effort,” Caslen said. “As South Carolina’s flagship university, we are uniquely positioned to help develop the future cyber workforce the state needs as well as inform stakeholders on emerging cyber research and best practices that impact security and the state’s economy.”

Long term, the university plans to establish a Cyber Institute, which will combine outreach, education, research, and workforce development to support the state’s cyber strategy, said Bill Kirkland, executive director of UofSC’s Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Economic Engagement.

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