North Louisiana a major player in cybersecurity

Louisiana’s cybersecurity efforts were on display for the nation at the National Governor’s Association National Summit on Cybersecurity held in Shreveport-Bossier last week and North Louisiana showed it is an example for collaboration and cybersecurity advancement in the nation.

“The I-20 corridor in Louisiana is now one of the fastest growing cyber security regions, not just in Louisiana, not just in the South, but in the nation,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards during his keynote address at the summit. “I believe Louisiana can become an example for others.”

In 2017, the Governor’s Office created the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to create a whole-state approach to cybersecurity and protect the government, businesses and citizens. This government structure is designed to “break down the communication barriers between the government and industry in order to build the trust that was necessary to move the state forward.”

Many states offer similar structures and throughout the summit, it was clear all of the states rely heavily on their National Guard, a unique group of individuals who serve in both the private and public sector and bring a wealth of expertise, particularly in the cybersecurity realm.

 “Perhaps the most important part of cybersecurity is workforce training and that is something we have had a laser focus on in Louisiana,” Edwards said.

Edwards moderated a panel on just that: Preparing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals in Louisiana. This panel included Dr. Rick Bateman, Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College; Dr. Les Guice, President of La. Tech University; Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State University; Yogesh Khanna, Chief Technology Officer at General Dynamics Information Technology; Ralph Russo, Director of Information Technology Programs at Tulane University; and Craig Spohn, Executive Director of the Cyber Innovation Center.

The Governor touted the programs offered at the colleges and universities, particularly those in North Louisiana as BPCC boasts three associates degrees, one academic certificate and two technical competency areas in cyber; Louisiana Tech offers the nation’s first four-year degree in cyber engineering and anticipates with that degree the university will soon be first in the number of cyber engineering degrees awarded in the nation; Grambling State University is offering the state’s first four-year degree in cybersecurity starting in the fall of 2019 and the university already is in the Top 50 nationally for the number of African-American graduates in computer science and computer information systems.

One point that was clear throughout the conference was reiterated by Bateman during the panel: Cybersecurity is for everyone. And, BPCC has a vision for embedding cyber into all of its programs to build a generational workforce that is better prepared to defend against cyber attacks.

Barksdale Air Force Base is also a large part of the I-20 technology corridor as well. Khanna said “veterans are a strong part of our fabric” as the company has veterans as 30 percent of their workforce.

Guice pointed to their partnerships with companies as key to their degrees and success as GDIT for example has taken students into their facilities.

Related Links:

Louisiana Tech students prepare for ‘Cyber Storm 2019’

Governors gather for National Governor’s Conference – National Summit on State Cybersecurity

Lawmakers hope to put Louisiana on the map for cybersecurity efforts

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