Cyber NYC boosts the Big Apple's cybersecurity industry

New York City Economic Development Corp. launches Cyber NYC to foster public-private partnerships focused on building a vibrant cybersecurity community and talent pool in the largest U.S. city.

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Global spending on cybersecurity is predicted to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the next five years, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. New York, the second largest city in the world, is a major player in the burgeoning industry.

In June 2017, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city's commitment to support the ongoing growth of a local cybersecurity industry. New York City Economic Development Corp.’s (NYCEDC) Cyber NYC initiative is central to the mayor's plan and provides valuable services to cybersecurity startups in the city.

The mayor’s 3-point play for Cyber NYC

Cyber NYC brings three focused plans to New York City’s economy:

1. Strengthening the local cybersecurity community by growing startups and helping those companies engage with others.

The city's first cybersecurity accelerator will be an incubator for startups that makes connections to local universities and industry. The physical space aims to become the center of NYC's cyber community.

2. Building up the city's homegrown talent pool with resources to train cybersecurity workers.

A Cyber Boot Camp and other training initiatives are intended to provide education for people with diverse backgrounds who are interested in pursuing careers in the cybersecurity field.

3. Commercializing academic cyber technology research from the city's universities and colleges.

Cyber NYC plans to support research — with the potential for productization in the cybersecurity market — born in the city’s higher education institutions. This will include introductions to proven cybersecurity entrepreneurs and qualified investors.

New York City cybersecurity companies

In 2017, the New York Business Journal featured a list of more than 20 of the hottest and most innovative cybersecurity companies headquartered in New York City. Several on the list praised Cyber NYC.

One of them, LIFARS, is a global leader in digital forensics and cyber resiliency services.

“New York needs more cyber and technology initiatives to drive intellectuals into more lucrative opportunities, and to economically diversify the domain within the current enterprise landscape,” said Ondrej Krehel, LIFARS CEO and a highly respected cybersecurity expert. “Cyber NYC is a great development investment within the cyber community that strives to be the most qualitative and competitive opportunity industry wide.”

Dr. Aleksandr Yampolskiy, CEO and co-founder of SecurityScorecard, a leader in security ratings that is on the list, also lauded the program.

“There is no better place to start a cybersecurity company than in NYC, which has amazing talent, financial services customers who are just a short cab ride away, and a culture of resilience and innovation inherent in NYC,” he said. “I believe the Cyber NYC initiative is a great catalyst for that to happen.”

Joseph Steinberg, founder and CEO of SecureMySocial, a top social media security provider also on the list, echoed those sentiments.

“It is great to see a formal effort by New York to bring cybersecurity companies to our area,” he said. “New York is home to many major financial and technology firms — which often lead the world in cybersecurity investments and in adopting cutting-edge information security technology — making our area an ideal location for cybersecurity product and services companies to form, grow, and flourish.”

There are dozens of firms that aren’t on the list because they are very small. But these are the cybersecurity startups that stand to benefit the most.

Training an essential part of Cyber NYC

Cybersecurity challenges are only going to increase, making training a critical aspect of Cyber NYC.

“It is critical that we train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to take on the challenges of a digital future,” said Gotham Sharma, managing director of Exeltek Consulting Group. “Among other things, the Cyber NYC initiative aims to facilitate workforce development by aligning education and community-oriented opportunities, strategically placing NYC at the forefront of cyber innovation.”

Community leaders get on board with Cyber NYC

Cybersecurity community organizers and leaders have bought into the mayor’s plans.

“My team and I are excited to work on this initiative, particularly in our mission to help empower youth from underserved communities to enter the cyber workforce,” says Sharma, also a cybersecurity instructor and director of strategic partnerships for #AccessCYBER, a STEM initiative providing NYC-area students with tools, tips, and training that will help them hone their skills in preparation for a career in cybersecurity. Sharma is also a member of the Technology Advisory Board at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Nada Anid, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), also praised the mayor’s efforts.

“We commend Mayor de Blasio and his vision to make New York City the number one destination for cybersecurity companies seeking the best talent in the U.S.,” she says. “This will be possible when businesses and academia work hand in hand to grow a workforce with the needed competencies and skills to accomplish this vision.”

Collaborating with top local schools such as NYIT, which the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through academic year 2021, is critical to the success of Cyber NYC.

Global support for Cyber NYC

Cyber leaders elsewhere are taking notice of Cyber NYC. Many of the top cybersecurity companies globally have branch offices in New York City.

“It’s exciting to see Cyber NYC developed to accelerate the growth of the cyber community and the pipeline of cyber talent across New York City,” says Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of Herjavec Group, and a Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank. “NYC is on the forefront of a cyber movement that will undoubtedly spur innovation, collaboration and most importantly draw awareness to the career opportunities in our incredible field of cybersecurity.”

Herjavec’s firm, a managed security services provider (MSSP) with offices and security operations centers (SOCs) globally, is headquartered in Toronto and staffs its NYC office with cybersecurity consultants and incident responders.

Silicon Valley is home to the largest number of cybersecurity companies globally due in large part to the density of venture capital firms in the area. But one company, San Francisco-based Bay Dynamics, developers of a cyber risk analytics platform, said goodbye to the Bay Area and hello to NYC when they moved their headquarters to TriBeCa this past summer. Bay Dynamics raised $23 million in a Series B funding round a little over a year ago, and the 100-person company has now situated itself in a 12,000-square-foot space at 99 Hudson St.

If it takes a village to raise cybersecurity startups, then Cyber NYC appears to be exactly that place.

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