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San Diego Poised to Be Cyber Security Leader

"Cyber can be San Diego's next big jobs generator," said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the EDC.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The cyber security business in the San Diego region employs about 3,500 workers in 100 companies and could grow significantly in the near future, according to a report released Thursday.

Firms such as the anti-virus software maker ESET and the government contractor Sentek Global, which supplies the military with information technology services, have teamed up with the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. to lay the groundwork for making San Diego a cyber security hub.

Already, the regional cyber security business -- including the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare System Command Center, which has about 3,000 personnel - - has an economic impact estimated at $1.5 billion per year, according to a report released by the EDC today.

The report found that the private sector cyber security business had a total economic impact of $809.5 million, and that military spending contributed an additional $705.8 million. The figures include direct impact, like payroll and contracts, and indirect as the money filters into the economy.

With the Department of Defense proposing to spend $23 billion on fighting cyber crime over the next five years, much of that money could come here, according to the report.

In response, the launch of a public-private partnership called the Cyber Center of Excellence was announced. The center will connect cyber-related companies with military leaders and academic partners to pursue a common strategy to promote the region's cyber strengths.

"Cyber can be San Diego's next big jobs generator," said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the EDC. "Like biotech was 30 years ago, cyber has the potential to be a driving force for growth in both our innovation and military economies."

While total employment in the San Diego region is expected to grow by 2.2 percent this year, cyber security jobs could jump 13 percent, according to the report.

Cyber security has emerged as a national priority as global retailers, medical providers, and critical infrastructure fall prey to significant data breaches and theft, according to the report.

In a recent, high-profile data breach, Target reported that 40 million credit and debit card accounts were compromised between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, and that hackers stole names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses from as many as 70 million customers.

The loss not only impacted the individual customers but tarnished the chain's image. The company reported U.S. sales declined 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

—City News Service

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