New cybersecurity hub latest in Macomb County workforce enhancements

20170124_085350Seeking to be at the forefront of workforce development, Macomb County celebrated the opening of the new Michigan Cyber Range Hub at Wayne State’s Advance Technology Education Center in Warren this week. This new hub will provide hands-on experience for students in areas of cybersecurity, hosting activities such as digital capture-the-flag events where participants use skills to work on digital penetration and forensics to gather clues and collect evidence in a timed and scored environment.

Operated by Ann Arbor-based nonprofit Merit Network Inc., the hub provides its services through the Wayne State College of Engineering and Division of Educational Outreach. The hub is the latest in a network of cyber ranges already in place in Macomb County. Velocity, Selfridge Air National Guard Base and General Dynamics Land Systems all feature fully operational cybersecurity hubs.

The opening ceremony brought together a regional network of workforce development partners including Wayne State University Provost Keith Whitfield; Sean Carlson, executive director of the Michigan Defense Center; Jim Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College; Joseph Sawasky, president and CEO of Merit Network; and Tricia Walding, senior project manager with the Workforce Intelligence Network.

20170124_091930Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was on hand for the ceremony and remarked how the opening reflects a continued trend of Macomb County’s readiness to compete in a globally competitive market and of the county’s emergence as a front runner in the information technology industry.

“I was born and raised within a stone’s throw of this place,” Hackel said. “The transformation of Macomb County has been absolutely incredible. This will bring together educators and industry for the betterment of all southeastern Michigan. We look forward to sharing the hub with the community.”

Resources to create the hub were provided in support from the Southeast Michigan Defense Industry Adjustment Grant through the Office of Economic Adjustment in the Department of Defense.

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is a senior planner for Macomb County, providing content for the Macomb Business and Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org.

IT jobs growing in Macomb County

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected through technology, Macomb County is on the cutting edge of the information technology (IT) and cybersecurity industries.

There are currently 367 companies that make up Macomb County’s network of IT and cybersecurity businesses. Collectively, they employ more than 8,000 workers (and growing!). These companies are utilizing sophisticated software systems and the latest in technology to revolutionize security.

IT1At the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range, Macomb County companies have access to the resources they need to secure their connected products. Certification classes in more than 20 different cybersecurity disciplines equip our workforce with the knowledge needed to excel in this growing industry.

The county is also home to MADCAT (Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Assurance Team), an organization devoted to supporting the region’s cyber ecosystem. Through collaborative partnerships, MADCAT focuses on driving technology innovation forward.

Jobs are available and growing across all fields of IT and cybersecurity. Here is a snapshot of some of the fastest growing in June of this year.

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The business development team of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is here to help.  Our job is to be knowledgeable about and connected to a wide assortment of programs available to help businesses succeed.

Our services are free, confidential and easily accessed.  Simply get in touch, and we will arrange for your team to meet with our seasoned professionals. We will listen to your goals to grow your business, discuss current and anticipated barriers and discuss options for getting you on your way.

Posavetz, Nick IMG_0221Nick Posavetz is a senior planner for Macomb County, often providing content for the Macomb Business and Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at posavetz@macombgov.org.

Connected technologies take root in Macomb

H3-160609887On Wednesday at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Rick Snyder introduced the state’s new Planet M initiative, which focuses on branding Michigan’s mobility assets, especially autonomous and connected vehicle technology. The importance of connected technologies continues to grow in today’s economy. Macomb County is already taking steps to promote economic development in this cyber arena as is seen in the development of key assets such as MADCAT (Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Assurance Team) and the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range.

When the Velocity Hub in Sterling Heights celebrated its grand opening in March, it joined the ranks of other cyber ranges in the county including at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and General Dynamics Land Systems’ MC2. However, the unclassified Velocity Hub is different because it is the only one open to the public, providing resources for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

FrontCyberRangeFor a fee, companies looking to test the security of their connected products can undergo a full day of penetration testing at the Velocity Hub. This will test the product against a checklist of best practices and result in a comprehensive final report detailing potential security vulnerabilities. The Velocity Hub also leases space for companies to utilize a virtual sandbox. Equipped with hardware and software, this enables startups and emerging companies to test the products they’re developing in a secure environment.

Also available are cybersecurity certification courses. These courses are perfect for an employer looking to fortify his or her staff with advanced cybersecurity knowledge as well as for the individual looking to build his or her resume. Various certification courses will be offered through Mile2 starting at the end of this month. Each course is five days long with a certification exam on the last day. The price ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the course.

Another unique facet of the Velocity Hub is that it is managed by the Macomb-OU INCubator and is housed in the same facility at the Velocity Collaboration Center. As such, startups have the option to lease office space at the incubator, giving them access to support services, classes and a network of other promising entrepreneurs.

It is no wonder MADCAT often chooses the Velocity Collaboration Center as the location for their quarterly meetings. Close proximity to the Velocity Hub, flexible seating options and a large projection screen available for presentations make it the perfect meeting space for this cybersecurity-focused organization.

As Michigan strives to gain dominance in the race to create autonomous vehicles, collaborative partnerships are happening in Macomb County to offer resources, tools and guidance to enable the mobility industry to grow.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

Revamped and relaunched: MADCAT.org

MADCAT logo

Aiming to be a central source for news and events related to cybersecurity, the revamped
MADCAT (Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Assurance Team)  website has officially launched at MADCAT.org.

The MADCAT website features several partners that have contributed to the organization’s efforts of growing the cybersecurity community.

MADCAT’s talent partners include local colleges and universities with programs ranging from certificate courses to master’s degrees. These programs help to further train and engage our regional talent pool in cybersecurity activities. One such talent partner, Walsh College, has the unique distinction of being named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, a status designated by the National Security Agency.

Institutional partners named on the site include a range of businesses, nonprofits and military representatives. Several of the institutional partners have established private cyber testing ranges; however, the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range at Macomb-OU INCubator remains the sole cyber range accessible to the public.

The site’s Resources tab contains links to tools that both the public and governmental agencies can utilize to ensure their networks are secure. The state of Michigan has several informational resources featured on the site, including the cyber disruption strategy and Michigan Cyber Initiative. A 25-minute video with Brig. Gen. Michael Stone features a panel discussion on how cybersecurity threats are monitored, prevented and addressed by both the automotive and defense industries. As these industries in particular continue to power Macomb County’s economic growth, it is vital for business owners and employees to be aware of potential threats and how to prevent a cyberattack.

Look for events and MADCAT quarterly meetings on the calendar – the group is open to the public and new members are always welcome.

The website’s redesign was the result of a visioning process the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development undertook with Mount Clemens-based digital marketing agency Hunch Free.

Tracey, Alyssa IMG_0194

Alyssa Tracey is a senior economic development specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Cybersecurity in Macomb County: MADCAT

You know it’s time for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference when Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel’s bright smile shines down on you from a billboard.

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This annual conference is a time for Michigan lawmakers and businesses to commingle and discuss the region’s most pressing issues. This year, as the billboard located along I-75 near Mackinaw City displays, Hackel will promote the importance of cybersecurity and how Macomb County is blazing the trail in this industry with the help of MADCAT (Michigan Automotive & Defense Cyber Assurance Team).

Spearheaded by the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, MADCAT is an organization comprised of representatives from government, business and academia who all have the same concern – how to guard against cyberthreats. Through this collaborative partnership, MADCAT aims to advance cybersecurity technology as well as to stimulate related economic development in southeast Michigan.

Another objective of MADCAT is to work with local colleges, universities and the Macomb Intermediate School District to cultivate talent in this growing industry. This means reaching out to students and educators to introduce them to careers in the field. According to Emsi, specialists in economic data research, in just four years, the number of well-paying software development jobs in Macomb County is projected to grow by 50 percent.

As the importance of connected technologies continues to grow in many industries, so does the need to protect confidential information from cyberattacks. If you are interested in partnering with MADCAT, visit their website at MADCAT.org.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

 

 

Velocity Hub grand opening highlights new cybersecurity asset

Stone.jpgFriday, March 18 marked the grand opening of the Velocity Hub. This is the first secure cyber range in Michigan available to companies to test their technologies on early-stage connected products. It is an extension of the Michigan Cyber Range that is powered by Merit Network and managed by the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator (Mac-OU INC). The highly-anticipated grand opening was filled to capacity with 225 registered guests representing government, business and academia.

The event was emceed by Sean Carlson, vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan Defense Center. His first introduction was Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor who presented a video explaining the importance of cybersecurity to large and small businesses and how the Velocity Hub came to fruition.

The next speaker was Sen. Gary Peters who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Peters recently introduced a bill, the State and Local Cyber Protection Act, intended to provide state and local governments access to training against cyberthreats. He stated that cybersecurity is critical to keeping the automotive and defense industries in Michigan, especially when the state faces competition from Google and Apple headquartered in California.

“This center will make sure Macomb County and Michigan are the center of new technologies that will change the world forever,” said Peters.

Brig. Gen. Michael Stone, assistant adjutant general for installations with the Michigan Army National Guard, spoke next. He is working with the federal government to establish a nationwide network of cyber ranges to train tomorrow’s workforce.

“We planted the seeds, now it’s time for Macomb County to take off with it,” said Stone.

He called the Velocity Hub a unique asset for the entire country, praising the public/private partnership that enables it to be self-sustaining.

FrontCyberRangeSteve Arwood, MEDC CEO, spoke about the strong relationship Macomb County has with the Michigan Defense Center, thanks in part to the effort of individuals such as Stephen Cassin, former Macomb County Planning & Economic Development director. He stated Michigan has what is needed to retain and attract talent and warned against complacency during this time of vast technological change.

With experience as the former Macomb County sheriff, Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel stressed the importance of having someone to turn to when Internet crime happens. He stated there is a need to cultivate subject matter experts who can tackle issues, such as cyberattacks, that affect the public. He cited Planning & Economic Development Deputy Director Vicky Rad as being an expert in the Macomb County cybersecurity initiative.

Dr. Betty Youngblood, vice president for strategic planning and Macomb outreach at Oakland University, thanked the Mac-OU INC staff for their hard work readying the hub, which included numerous meetings, events and grant research.

“Today begins the next chapter in services offered here,” she said.

Dr. Joe Adams, vice president of research and cybersecurity at Merit Network, presented Larry Herriman, interim executive director at Mac-OU INC, and Jennifer Tisdale, cyber programs manager for defense and automotive offices at MEDC, with coins. He credited the two individuals for making the hub happen. He said the hub will not only create a more cyber-aware workforce able to protect their organizations, but it will also serve as an economic development magnet.

The last speaker at the event was Nathan Dragun, director of cyber range development for the Michigan Cyber Range at Merit Network. He addressed the audience from a hacker’s perspective, stating the focus should not be on controlling the Internet, but embracing and working with it, reminding everyone the tools used to attack are the same used to defend. The hub is valuable because it will enable users to keep up with technology and to gain a true understanding of how to use it through hands-on training, testing and collaboration.

Source.jpgPamela Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative, had the honor of cutting the ribbon. An open house followed where attendees networked and explored the Velocity Hub. Decked out with a new front desk, computer stations, white boards and mounted projection screens, guests were able to view a live Alphaville exercise where Oakland University students were participating in a virtual match of capture the flag.

The Velocity Hub is the result of the collaboration of the Merit Network, the Michigan Defense Center of the MEDC, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, the city of Sterling Heights and Oakland University. It offers training space, hosts live hacking exercises and assists in software testing for local companies. Small businesses in the defense, homeland security and advanced manufacturing industries may benefit the most from these services as hackers may view them as vulnerable and a way to hack into larger companies for whom they are suppliers. Mac-OU INC will also offer certification classes in more than 20 different cybersecurity disciplines.

For more information about certification courses or how you can utilize the Velocity Hub, contact Larry Herriman at (586) 884-9332 or email him at herriman@oakland.edu.

Caitlin Gerds-Habermas is an associate planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Macomb-Oakland University INCubator launches a comprehensive cybersecurity initiative

As the state of Michigan strategically executes its Michigan Cyber Initiative, a new, unclassified hub of the Michigan Cyber Range (MCR), powered by Merit Network, has been developed at the Velocity Center, home of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator (Mac-OU INC).

Mac-OU INC is managing this publicly-accessible MCR extension hub, the first of its kind connected to an incubator program targeted toward startup and emerging companies in the state of Michigan. This effort is in collaboration with the Merit Network, the Michigan Defense Center of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development, the city of Sterling Heights and Oakland University.

Via Gov. Snyder’s Michigan Cyber Initiative, Mac-OU INC’s goal is to educate the public and raise awareness on the ever-increasing importance of cybersecurity. Over the years, technology has become deeply ingrained in everyday life, resulting in a world that is more interconnected than ever. This has dramatically increased the number of cyberattacks and system intrusions, which resulted in sensitive personal and business information being released, financial losses, and disruptions of business operations. These attacks and intrusions have created a twofold problem, in that organizations need a way to test the security on products and services before launching them, and a workforce is needed to help protect against cyberattacks and intrusions. A cyber range is a facility with a unique internet connection that can be used for this testing and training.

Are you interested in learning more about how this new Macomb County asset will provide a vital service to area businesses, help attract new business and fortify our workforce?  Plan to attend the official launch of the Velocity Hub on Friday, March 18 from 9 a.m. to noonClick here for more information and to register to attend.

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How Can You Utilize the Velocity Hub of the Michigan Cyber Range?

Education: We hold certification courses for over 20 different cybersecurity disciplines.

Mac-OU INC will host certificate education through the Merit Network. Each certification can be obtained through an approximate four- to five-day course including an exam. These programs will run through Oakland University’s Professional & Continuing Education and will earn participants continuing education units. As stated on the Merit website, “Each course prepares you for real-life situations and for the related certification test. When you successfully complete a course, you will be able to confidently take a certification exam on the final day of the course.”

Validation: We conduct security “best practice” checklist reviews and in-depth product validation penetration tests.

In this Velocity Hub, small and large businesses alike will have the opportunity to conduct assessments and exercises on early-stage connected products. Similar to a shooting range for gun use and training, this secure sandbox environment is stocked with tools and targets to complete safety, performance and efficiency tests.

Preparation: We lease virtual space within our secure sandbox environment stocked with hardware and software.

Companies of all sizes need access to this isolated sandbox environment, which mimics a real-world setting, in order to test products or hold demonstrations. Our business model allows companies to rent virtual space within our sandbox environment.

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About the Michigan Cyber Range
The state of Michigan chose the Merit Network to begin operating this cybersecurity range and program. The project is a public-private collaboration that includes government, the National Guard, universities, community colleges, K-12 schools and private industry.

The MCR is a program that leverages the physical range to develop world-class cybersecurity professionals. There is a full program of meetings and workshops as well as tools to develop and promulgate best practices in cybersecurity training and cybersecurity itself. The range is used for individual as well as collective training. The staff are experts in the best and most current practices of cybersecurity training and are focused on meeting the specific needs of the people and organizations that use the range.

The MCR provides students and IT professionals with a solid foundation in cybersecurity through challenging hands-on coursework, exercises and labs. Courses are aligned with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The NICE framework organizes the skills that America’s cybersecurity workforce needs to meet the national preparedness goals of detecting, mitigating and defeating malicious actors.

Contact Us
The Macomb-OU INCubator is located in the Velocity Center of Sterling Heights at 6633 18 Mile Road. More information on the Velocity Hub can be found at macouinc.org/cyber or by contacting Larry Herriman at (586) 884-9332 or via email at herriman@oakland.edu.

Joan Carleton is the marketing and communications manager for the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator.