To no one’s surprise Boston has made it into the final round for selection of Amazon’s HQ2. While Boston ticks the boxes off Amazon’s list, we have additional assets that have real benefits to Amazon, or any large enterprise.
Security is critical for the digital economy. The greater Boston area is a global hub for cyber security. Amazon knows this, shown through its recent purchase of Sqrrl, a cloud-based cybersecurity startup based in Cambridge, MA. Though there are many reasons why Boston has a cyber security edge over other U.S. metropolitan areas, I would highlight three key points that we should champion to attract business to the region.
The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) is one of the world’s most successful security information sharing and effective practice consortiums serving New England organizations. A non-profit founded in 2011, the ACSC provides a safe forum for collaborating on and learning from the most advanced security threats while also conducting research on collaborative cyber defense methods to build stronger public/private partnerships on security issues. The ACSC also works with public officials to execute well-informed policy decisions. Its community includes member organizations with some of the most sophisticated security operations and functions in the country giving incoming companies like Amazon an opportunity to quickly build relationships with other local peer organizations critical for modern cyber defense.
Security Workforce Development
Massachusetts boasts an unmatched talent development channel with a robust catalog of educational opportunities. Traditional degree and online programs from schools such as Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, University of Massachusetts, and WPI, and academic research institutes, including the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern, Cybersecurity@CSAIL at MIT, and the Cyber Security Project at the Harvard Kennedy School, are a small sampling of the over 50 local academic initiatives that either exist today or are under development to build the next generation security workforce. Further indication of the state’s leadership comes in the form of the recent launch of the Cyber Education and Training Consortium (CETC). Led by the University of Massachusetts and the ACSC, the CETC is the nation’s first broad joint initiative to connect education institutions with business leaders to promote academic programming in cyber security that aligns with industry needs. These types of local initiatives demonstrate our community’s persistent efforts to channel talent and overcome the incessant cyber security skills gap.
Anchored by its diverse research institutions that channel millions of dollars of government cyber security funding into the local economy, New England provides the strongest pipeline in the country for emerging security technologies and products that will power the next generation of digital business. Massachusetts reinforced this fact in 2017 when Governor Baker launched the MassCyberCenter at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) as the state’s engine for supporting growth and innovation within the Commonwealth’s cyber security community. In addition to having dozens of global companies hosting security functions locally, a wide array of leading cyber security solution providers have their headquarters in and around Boston, including such recognized names as RSA under Dell Technologies, Akamai, Veracode, Carbon Black and Rapid7, to name just a handful. Consequently, Massachusetts is best positioned to lead the next cyber security revolution in the digital economy.
It’s thrilling to see companies like Amazon recognize Massachusetts as a strong location for advancing their business needs. The Commonwealth has everything needed to prove that, far more than being a destination, it has the community support to partner with companies on the foundational elements, such as cybersecurity, that will lead their businesses forward into the future.
Michael Figueroa is executive director of the Advanced Cyber Security Center, a regional collaborative building a stronger community defense to solve common cyber security problems across Massachusetts and New England.