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New Report: Florida Making Progress Toward a Safer Cyberspace

The Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida released the inaugural report, which takes a comprehensive look at the state’s cybersecurity landscape

Florida ranks third in the nation for cybercrime incidents, victims and losses reported to the FBI – but the state is working to mitigate threats facing Florida businesses and poised to become a leader in cybersecuity education, workforce development and research.

In early February, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida released the first State of Cybersecurity in Florida report. It provides a comprehensive review of the state’s cyber threat environment, workforce needs, education and training opportunities, and research activity as well as an in-depth examination of the cybersecurity posture of Florida’s businesses and organizations. The Center contracted with Gartner Consulting to independently conduct the study and document their findings in the report, which is intended to facilitate decision making for policymakers and stakeholders in industry, academia, defense, and government.

“Good decisions come from good information,” said Sri Sridharan, director of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity. “Our goal was to take a broad look at the cybersecurity landscape in Florida and compile information that stakeholders across the state can use as they make decisions impacting their organizations.”

“We believe there is a much-needed shift taking place, with organizations that traditionally may have been reactive when it comes to cybersecurity now becoming proactive,” Sridharan added. “That shift, coupled with the state’s commitment to cybersecurity, is sure to yield huge dividends for Florida.”

The growing demand for cybersecurity professionals outpaces the supply in Florida and the nation, the new report notes. Sixty-eight percent of the Florida organizations surveyed reported cyber staffing challenges, and only 32 percent surveyed were confident they are prepared for a cyberattack.

USF plays a major role in feeding the talent pipeline needed to build a skilled cyber workforce. Of the 35 public and private colleges and universities in Florida offering cybersecurity-specific degrees and certificate programs at the end of 2017, including training in digital forensics and information security, USF had the most (10), the report indicates. The USF offerings include an interdisciplinary master’s degree, developed with assistance from the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, which boasts an enrollment of more than 400 students.

To view the full report, visit the Florida Center for Cybersecurity’s website at thefc2.org/news/soc.aspx.

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The Florida Center for Cybersecurity is a statewide resource to position Florida as a national leader in cybersecurity through education and workforce development; innovative, interdisciplinary research; and community engagement. With a geographic footprint that spans Florida and encompasses all twelve State University System of Florida (SUS) institutions, the Center serves as a hub for creating connections, building partnerships, capitalizing on opportunities, and encouraging collaboration among stakeholders in industry, academia, government, and defense. The Center hosts events to engage a diverse audience base throughout the year and administers funding programs that support collaborative research and cybersecurity programming at SUS institutions.

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The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent,” placing USF in an elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.


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