Securing Today, Creating Tomorrow: Fairfax County’s cybersecurity ecosystem widens, earns plaudits

Fairfax County and Northern Virginia have one of the world’s strongest cybersecurity ecosystems. That leadership shines through innovative companies working on every aspect of cybersecurity, educational institutions and trade associations developing the next generation of the cyber workforce, and of course the government agencies defending and strengthening networks.

To spotlight National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, today’s E-Bird Extra highlights notable cybersecurity initiatives and cyber industry awards presented to organizations and individuals across the area.

George Mason University is home to the Northern Virginia Regional Node of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative. Photo courtesy George Mason University.

George Mason University has been tapped to lead the Northern Virginia node of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). The Northern Virginia Regional Node is a consortium of more than 60 Northern Virginia-based universities, colleges, and private, nonprofit and government organizations that share a commitment to ensuring Virginia’s continued leadership in secure cyber physical systems and the Internet of Things. The CCI includes four regional nodes from across the state, each led by an institution of higher education.

“CCI came about to ensure that the commonwealth retains a leadership position in cyber innovation,” Deborah Crawford, George Mason’s vice president for research, innovation and economic impact, said in a release. “We at Mason are delighted to do our part by convening and connecting our regional partners, generating exciting research breakthroughs that make their way into new products and services, and preparing the cyber innovation workforce of the future.”

Fairfax County is home to hundreds of companies focused on cybersecurity and, according to the Washington Business Journal, 18 of the D.C. region’s 25 largest cybersecurity firms (based on 2018 metro-area revenue) are based in the county. The top three on the list are locals: Carahsoft of Reston, Iron Bow Technologies of Herndon and ThunderCat Technology of Reston.

One of the firms on the list, Tysons-based Applied Insight, shared why Fairfax County is a strong cybersecurity hub.

“Proximity to our customers and our teams embedded with them, as well as to our partners in industry, has always been important to me and my leadership team,” said John Hynes, CEO of Applied Insight. “Given that many of them are located in the national capital region, having a headquarters in Fairfax County is enormously helpful in fostering the kind of close collaboration upon which our success is founded.”

Hynes said he was pleased to see his company on the list. “It’s meaningful recognition for our talented cyber team who are innovating every day to secure mission-critical systems and data for our national security customers,” he said.

Capital Cyber Award winners. Photo courtesy of the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

The area’s cyber cluster is being spotlighted in other ways too. The Herndon-based Northern Virginia Technology Council debuted its inaugural Capital Cyber Awards at the organization’s Capital Cybersecurity Summit on October 1. The awards honored top cyber companies and executives throughout the Washington region.

Reston-based ThreatQuotient was named company of the year in the under $25 million category, and Clifford Conner from the Springfield-based National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was recognized as the Government CISO of the Year.

“Each applicant is part of this region’s thriving hub of impressive companies and highly skilled individuals,” said Bobbie Kilberg, NVTC president and CEO.