USM Task Force Calls for Students of All Disciplines to Learn Core components of Cyber Security

Adelphi, Md. (May 23, 2011) -- A University System of Maryland (USM) Cyber Security Task Force has recommended that all USM graduates entering the job market, regardless of their major, need a basic awareness and understanding of cyber defense. The task force urged the USM to develop new academic offerings that can help Maryland develop hundreds of skilled workers in cyber security as the nation's information technology networks are increasingly threatened.

Task force chair Nariman Farvardin, Ph.D., delivered the report at USM headquarters today to USM Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan, who was joined by U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger and Nariman Farvardin, Ph.D., task force chair, to discuss the report's findings.

The Task Force developed five actionable and achievable recommendations.

  1. Working with the Governor's Workforce Investment Board, conduct a comprehensive and scientific survey of employer needs.
  2. Enhance and extend higher educational offerings related to cyber security and information assurance.
  3. Establish more partnerships among education and government and private industry and leverage available resources.
  4. Strengthen research and support innovation and technology transfer in cyber security.
  5. Expand the pipeline for cyber careers through collaboration between the USM and Maryland's community colleges.

The task force recommends that the USM enhance traditional academic offerings with hands-on training in cyber techniques and technologies.

"This is not just another report. This is a blueprint and road map for developing the cyber security workforce of the future. This road map will cement Maryland as the epicenter of cyber education and cyber workforce development. This blueprint will expand the pipeline of cyber warriors in our state and serve as a road map for our nation to follow," Sen. Mikulski said. "Developing a strong, educated, capable cyber workforce in Maryland will lead to a safer country and a stronger economy. It's about preparing for the jobs of today and tomorrow in Maryland."

In November 2010, Chancellor Kirwan convened a task force of representatives from USM institutions, state and federal government agencies, and private-sector businesses to determine how the USM's cyber security resources can be utilized in the region. The task force's report is an important step in guiding future USM endeavors in cyber defense.

"Shortly after this task force began its diligent work, the USM Board of Regents approved our new strategic plan for the system in 2020. A critical goal in that plan was strengthening Maryland's economic competitiveness," Chancellor Kirwan said. "Helping to position Maryland as a leader in cyber security was a major element of that goal."

The United States is experiencing a pronounced shortage of trained cyber workers to meet this danger. A leading information technology expert in the Central Intelligence Agency recently noted that the U.S. needs as many as 30,000 skilled workers to make the country fully prepared to handle the cyber security threat.

"I would like thank my task force colleagues for the time and effort they expended to put together the report and develop the recommendations," Farvardin said. "Cyber security threats are becoming an increasingly critical issue in all information systems for government and businesses, posing a potentially devastating threat on their operations and the critical infrastructure they support. Technological advancements in this area and the associated workforce development needs present an important opportunity to the students we educate."

Cyber security is a growing academic discipline throughout the USM. The National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have designated four USM institutions as Centers of Academic Excellence or Research Excellence in Information Assurance: Towson University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland, College Park; and University of Maryland University College.

The task force will take specific measures to determine the exact number of academic degrees needed system-wide to satisfy future needs for a skilled workforce in cyber security.

Printed copies of the full report were available at today's press conference and also can be found online at



Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719