One must only watch the evening news or read the latest headlines to learn about the security breaches faced by the likes of Sony pictures, JEEP, Staples, JP Morgan, Target and countless other global corporations to understand that the more connected we become through technology, the more we become vulnerable to security risks.  Cybersecurity quickly turns to cyber “insecurity” once we understand that anything and everything connected to the Internet is vulnerable to attack.  This Internet of Things (IoT) has and will continue to alter the way we live our lives, interact with others and the way we conduct and operate our businesses.

The global cybersecurity market will grow from $67 billion in 2011 to a projected $156 billion dollars by 2019.  The reason for the projected increase is due, in large part, to the continued advancement of technologies leveraged to make the daily tasks of life easier and more convenient, coupled with the continued assault of mal-actors penetrating our networks for a variety of reasons and causes. It is also important to note that issues of cybersecurity, otherwise known as network security, touches every industry sector only part of which includes telemedicine technologies, mobile devices, aerospace, automotive, system controls of prison cell doors to state, local, and federal government agencies and, of course, the defense industrial base.

During the past two years the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Defense Center has had a concentrated effort dedicated to the continued growth of Michigan’s cyber ecosystem, specifically as it relates to business and workforce development in support of the Defense and Homeland Security markets.  As the MI Defense Center team began to engage industry, federal and state agencies, both internal and external to the state of Michigan, quickly gained awareness of two facts:

First, we learned that Michigan, despite our phenomenal colleges / universities, our history of industrial innovation or our unprecedented cyber assets such as the Michigan Cyber Range, is not immediately recognized as a “hub” of cybersecurity expertise or development. However, as we began to engage these agencies and organizations in conversations we have been successful in modifying the way Michigan is perceived by relating cybersecurity to what we do really well… Cars! As the conversation surrounding connected cars and autonomous vehicles continues to grow, Michigan is increasingly becoming recognized for network security that must be integrated into these vehicles in order to ensure consumer safety.
The Michigan Defense Center recognizes that many of these same cybersecurity technologies tested for the commercial automotive market may have a dual use application within fleets of military vehicles. We are working with several of our cybersecurity partners and stakeholders to help match our technology innovators to our military partners and defense OEMs and to help us create a unified message of cybersecurity successes to better tell the Michigan story outside our state borders.

Secondly, and seemingly more critical, is the overwhelming global shortage of cybersecurity talent. We have heard loud and clear from industry and agencies alike about the ongoing bidding wars over talented individuals with the right skill sets and the inability for most to get the talent they require for success in a timely and efficient manner. As part of the talent shortage, the Michigan Defense Center has aligned our efforts with Governor Rick Snyder’s Cybersecurity Initiatives for talent and workforce development.  Michigan’s innovative tactic is to approach cybersecurity professional development from a seemingly “vocational” perspective allowing our programs to provide students the opportunity to receive up to 17 professional, nationally recognized cybersecurity certifications offered via the Michigan Cyber Range and coupled with university curriculum as currently available at Wayne State University and, soon to be offered at, Oakland University.

The Michigan Defense Center has also funded two MI Cyber Range extension nodes, powered by the Merit Network (Ann Arbor) to offer STEM programs specific to Cyber/Auto/Defense penetration testing and cyber challenges to Michigan students.  The first extension node of the MI Cyber Range went “live” April 2015 at the General Dynamics Land Systems MC2 facility in Sterling Heights where they hosted 45 student participants in July 2015 for SAE Cyber/Auto Challenge.  The second MI Cyber Range extension node is scheduled to go “live” in October 2015 inside the Macomb – Oakland University Incubator inside the Velocity building co-located with the Michigan Defense Center headquarters. This site will serve as the first publicly operated cybersecurity incubator in the state of Michigan that will offer 17-22 of the professional cybersecurity certifications offered via Merit Network, as well as, a secure, unclassified sandbox environment available to Michigan businesses wanting to develop and test their emerging technologies. In FY16, it is the intent of the Michigan Defense Center to connect additional extension nodes of the Michigan Cyber Range around the state potentially including mid-Michigan, west-Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

To learn more about the State of Michigan’s Cybersecurity Initiatives, please visit:
It is understood that each of the cybersecurity partners, stakeholders, resources in the state of Michigan may be singing in a slightly different key depending on their particular interests, but it is the goal the Michigan Defense Center to help ensure that each of us are in harmony with each other so we can have a strong, unified voice around our state and outside of our state as we are telling Michigan’s cyber story.

For more information about the Michigan Defense Center’s cybersecurity efforts, please contact Jennifer Tisdale at: