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Howard County, Md., Launches CISO in Residence Program

March 06, 2014

In Howard County, Md., a new program is unique enough that it’s drawing attention from as far as Germany.

Launched by the Howard Tech Council, under the Howard County Economic Development Authority and in alignment with local tech incubator Innovation Catalyst, the county's new chief information security office in residence program (called HoCo CISO) gives more than 300 member organizations the opportunity to receive security consulting advice and resources. And those German researchers? They're studying the program in search of new cybersecurity innovations.

Launching a program like this, which is based at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, makes perfect sense in the Old Line State, said Patrick Wynn, executive director of the Howard Tech Council. Maryland has many IT security firms to draw from, and small- and medium-sized organizations that are members of the Howard Tech Council and the Innovation Catalyst don’t usually have dedicated security officers. But because IT security has become such an important factor today, these organizations need good security intelligence to protect what they have built from scratch.

Over the next six months, the program will continually add new features, Wynn said. Right now, the program mainly consists of a basic website with an email address that vetted organizations can use to request IT security consulting sessions. That Web presence will be developed in coming months to include a searchable knowledge base of commonly asked questions, and a more sophisticated ticketing system than what they use now, he said. They will also launch a monthly blog and begin participating in the Howard Council e-newsletter, and begin physical office hours in March, where the companies that need help can meet in person to discuss their security questions.

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