LONGMEADOW — At the fifth annual Cybersecurity Summit held recently at the Longmeadow campus of Bay Path University, keynote speaker and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) CEO Timothy Connelly told summit attendees that cybersecurity is a top issue for Gov. Charlie Baker and MassTech.
According to Connelly, MassTech is making cybersecurity a priority “because we recognize this is the fastest-growing sector. This is why we established the MassTech Cyber Growth and Development Center. Governor Charlie Baker thinks this is a terrific market that can produce sustainable jobs as long as we develop the needed talent.”Connelly noted that there is currently a talent deficit in the field, with more than 8,000 available jobs in cybersecurity in Massachusetts. The Commonwealth is the number-one generator of STEM graduates nationally, and is home to 37 of the 500 most innovative security companies in the world, second only to California, he added.
MassTech is a public agency created to support the innovation economy in the Commonwealth and help support formation and growth of the state’s technology sector. Connelly is head of the newly established Cybersecurity Center at MassTech.
Other speakers at the summit included Tim Russell, supervisory special agent in Cybersecurity, FBI Boston; and Carol Leary, Bay Path president. This year’s summit was titled “Building a Cybersecurity Ecosystem: the Roles of Higher Education, Law Enforcement, and Technology.”
“It is critical for higher education to be a central part of this emerging cyber ecosystem,” said Leary, who serves as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Academic Advisory Council. “We are developing the right talent, the diverse talent needed to be a part of the cybersecurity workforce. To the students pursuing a cybersecurity career — you are the future, you are qualified, and we need you more than ever.”
Added Russell, “cybersecurity is a human-capital issue and is an entire company endeavor. All should be part of developing a cyber ecosystem. Engagement and collaboration with government and law enforcement is important in detection.”
The summit was co-sponsored by the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. According to Rick Sullivan, president and CEO, “The EDC is focused on growing our economy, and one of our greatest assets is higher education. We want to develop economic-development sectors that are new and cutting-edge. We can become a center of excellence in cybersecurity, and our colleges and universities can help us grow that sector. I want to thank Bay Path University for being the leader in the cybersecurity sector, and we are here to follow your lead.”
According to Thomas Loper, associate provost and dean of the School of Science and Management at Bay Path, the summit drew over 200 people, including professionals in the cybersecurity field; small-business owners; executives from financial-services, manufacturing, insurance, and healthcare organizations; and students, faculty, and staff from the region’s colleges.