Top 10 global cybersecurity hubs for 2019

Many cities and regions are vying for the title of Cybersecurity Capital. Here are 10 of the leading and emerging contenders.

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Expected and surprising contenders for top cybersecurity hubs

New York is a financial and entertainment hub. San Diego is famous for its strong military presence, and Washington, D.C. is best known as the United States capital.

Each of these metro areas also hope to become synonymous with cybersecurity — and for good reason. Global spending on cybersecurity will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively from 2017 to 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures research, which also predicts cybercrime damages will cost $6 trillion annually by 2021 — double the cost in 2015.

With so much to gain, and so much at stake, here are 10 cities, countries and regions, in no particular order, that have established themselves as cybersecurity leaders — or are well on their way there. Some you’d expected to see on this list, such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley, while others may surprise you.

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New York City

New York is the U.S. and often global center of so many worlds — finance, theater, retail and if ambitions pan out, cybersecurity. "With New York being the financial capital of the world, cybersecurity touches businesses from startups to the Fortune 500, pushing New York to establish first-in-the-nation cybersecurity regulations,” explains Verizon Ventures of NYC’s ambitions.

Case in point: Cyber NYC. Announced in November 2018, Cyber NYC is “among the nation’s most ambitious cybersecurity initiatives” and is designed to transform the city into a global cybersecurity hub over the next decade, according to The New York Times. The project is a partnership that includes Israeli venture capital funds, several private-sector companies, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Cyber NYC is expected to create a Global Cyber Center in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood; a SoHo cybersecurity innovation hub; and an academic cyber partnership with the likes of Columbia University and NYU, the Times reports. Corporations including Goldman Sachs and PwC are advising or assisting with Cyber NYC’s training and hiring.

NYC has 30 companies with world or local headquarters in the Cybersecurity 500 index, including Booz Allen, Deloitte, Accenture and CA Technologies.

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San Diego, California

This Southern California coastal city is home to the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. SPAWAR attracts cybersecurity talent as well as spends billions annually on securing the Navy’s critical systems, thus serving as an anchor for the region’s growing cybersecurity industry.

Currently, the San Diego area has more than 150 cybersecurity-focused companies, including AttackIQ, Proficio, MixMode (formerly PacketSled), Sentek Global and Webroot. San Diego has about 8,450 cybersecurity jobs, up 11% from 2016, according to the region’s Cyber Center of Excellence. The Center also predicts that over the next three years, San Diego cybersecurity jobs will increase nearly 5.5% compared to the region’s overall 4.2% job growth.

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Washington, D.C., Metro Area

As with neighboring Maryland, the nation’s capital and surrounding suburbs have emerged as a cybersecurity hub. “A dominating hub for life sciences and government, Washington, D.C., also serves as a significant outpost for tech companies seeking proximity to policymakers as well as for burgeoning cybersecurity investment,” according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield’s Tech Cities 1.0 report (2017), which ranked D.C. third on its list of the top 25 tech cities. (The company changed its ranking system in 2018, ranking D.C. among the 10 economies in which tech is a critical component.)

Access to policymakers is “important as tech becomes a societal issue, requiring more understanding from leadership to create laws that keep up with the rate of change in technology,” according to CIO Dive. Top tech firms also have a presence in D.C. because of the proximity to Virginia’s “Data Center Alley” of more than 70 data centers.

The D.C. metro area boasts 49 companies on the Cybersecurity 500 index for 2018, including Siemens Government Technologies, LookingGlass and ThreatConnect (all in Arlington, Virginia), and VeriSign and ThreatQuotient (Reston, Virginia).

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Maryland claims to have the world’s largest government-trained cyber workforce, with approximately 110,000 cyber-related engineering and data science jobs, as reported in U.S. News & World Report. Fort Meade, which lies roughly equidistant between Baltimore and Annapolis, is headquarters to the National Security Agency (NSA). The state has more than 40 government agencies with strong cybersecurity programs, including the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center north of Baltimore.

Of the 2018 Cybersecurity 500 list, 15 companies are based in Maryland, including Lockheed Martin (Bethesda), IronNet Cybersecurity (Fulton), Terbium Labs (Baltimore) and Dragos, Inc. (Hanover). In 2017, Israeli-owned ELTA North America, a defense manufacturer, opened a Cyber Innovation Center in Annapolis. The center focuses on “adapting technology and international property from Israel for use by ELTA’s commercial customers in the United States” with an emphasis on cybersecurity, The Baltimore Sun reported. Also in 2017, the Baltimore Cyber Range opened downtown. It’s a facility to train cybersecurity professionals using threat simulations. And in 2018, Port Covington was rebranded “CyberTown, USA,” a hub for cybersecurity and data science in a 235-acre waterfront redevelopment project due to open in late 2020.

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“A regional power devoted to ensuring its own survival, Israel has burgeoned into a high tech epicenter built around Internet security, anti-virus software, and other cyber defense technologies,” Fortune noted. “Ensuring that its people remain able to take on threats and at all levels has become center to Israeli governmental strategy and transformed what began as a cottage industry into a thriving sector of the nation’s economy.”

Israel has 42 companies ranked among the 2018 Cybersecurity 500 list. The bulk are based in Tel-Aviv and include Check Point Software, Dell EMC Cyber Solutions Group, Cyberbit and Israel Aerospace Industries. Israel has 174 cybersecurity startups according to CyberMap, an interactive map listing cybersecurity companies by category.

Israel’s government and private sector collaborated in recent years to transform the desert town of Be’er Sheva into a cybersecurity hub, with dozens of startups working alongside large enterprises such as Lockheed-Martin, Deutsche Telekom and IBM. “The result, to date, is a budding ecosystem of bright minds, dedicated to a common goal of developing world-class cybersecurity technology,” according to VentureBeat.

Israel is also helping smaller countries such as Singapore launch cybersecurity startups, according to Forbes.

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Boston, Massachusetts

Some, such as Fortune magazine, wonder if Boston’s cybersecurity hub status has more to do with its past than the present. In the 1980s, for example, Boston was a pioneer in the cybersecurity industry, home to leading companies such as RSA Security, founded in suburban Bedford in 1982 (and now owned by Dell Technologies).

The area remains an undeniably strong presence in cybersecurity. Other cybersecurity firms with operations here include Carbon Black, Rapid7, Pwnie Express, CyberArk, Cyberreason and Veracode.

In recent years, more than 12 Israeli cybersecurity firms have launched U.S. operations in Boston, according to WBUR, a reflection of ties between the two that go back to Israeli Adi Sharmir’s co-founding of RSA. Add to that the Boston area’s wealth of top research universities and colleges, including Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a thriving venture capital landscape.  

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Augusta, Georgia

While most people know Augusta as home to the Masters golf tournament, the southern city is quietly becoming a cybersecurity hub as well. Why Augusta? Fort Gordon is one reason. The nearby U.S. Army post is home to the Army’s Signal Corps, which specializes in helping America’s military communicate and is also home to a growing NSA presence, according to Cyber Defense magazine.

The Augusta area has long been home to tech- and cyber-related companies such as Unisys’ worldwide security operations and the high-tech, mixed-use Augusta Cyberworks development at Sibley Mill, says Cyber Defense. In 2013, the Pentagon announced it was relocating the U.S. Army Cyber Command to Augusta, which helped to further establish the city as a cybersecurity hub, the magazine notes.

Other factors putting Augusta on the map include Augusta University’s Cyber Institute, which recently received a grant to develop courses for the NSA’s Cybersecurity Core Curriculum Development program, Fifth Domain reports; and the $100 million Georgia Cyber Center, the “single largest investment in a cybersecurity facility by a state government to date,” according to the center’s website.

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London and the U.K.

Given London’s importance in the financial services sector, and how vital security is in protecting that sector, it’s perhaps no surprise that the U.K. capitol has emerged as a leading European cybersecurity hub. The U.K. is also home to GCHQ, considered one of the world’s most advanced cybersecurity organizations, as well as renown universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, and King’s College London, each of which the U.K. government has recognized as "Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research." 

Since 2015, London-based cybersecurity incubator CyLon’s accelerator program has helped 83 startups, its website claimed. CyLon is Europe’s first cybersecurity incubator; members include firms such as CyberLytic, Intruder and Sphere Secure Workspace.

The increase in cybersecurity threats targeted at Europe, including the Petya and WannaCry ransomware attacks, has helped galvanize interest in cybersecurity innovation in the U.K., according to Internet of Business. Notable U.K. firms with cybersecurity services or initiatives include BT, PwC, Sophos, Darktrace, and SentryBay.

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San Antonio, Texas

“Remember the Alamo” has been a major catchphrase in San Antonio (and Texas) for many years. But today, the city is also hoping to be remembered as “Cyber City USA.”

“Cybersecurity as an industry is still in its infancy, and San Antonio is among the elite locations poised for growth,” according to a Deloitte report. "Albeit lacking the youthful vibe of an Austin, San Antonio’s entrepreneurial strata, including cybersecurity, other information technology and biosciences, is sizable and growing.”

San Antonio’s significant military presence has helped stimulate a variety of cybersecurity initiatives in recent years, including the U.S. Air Force’s Cyber Command and the NSA’s Texas Cryptologic Center, which was formerly a semiconductor fabrication plant, according to CS Monitor.

About 12 federal cybersecurity operations are based in San Antonio, a study by the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) claimed. The SAEDF said that more than 80 cybersecurity-focused companies operate out of the city, providing 60,000 jobs in science and technology and 80,000 in the Department of Defense.

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San Francisco, California, Bay area and Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is the world’s technology epicenter, dating back to the 1939 founding by two Stanford University graduates of Hewlett-Packard in a Palo Alto garage.

Today, Silicon Valley claims the top spot in the most recent Cybersecurity 500 index as well, with 126 companies that include such heavy hitters as Cisco, Symantec, Intel, Fortinet, SonicWall, McAfee, Barracuda Networks, Google, Oracle, Malwarebytes, VMware, Juniper Networks, Tanium, HPE (formerly Hewlett-Packard), Menlo Security, WhiteHat Security, and FICO.

“Silicon Valley is the hub for enterprise cybersecurity, where big businesses are coming up with better firewalls, because there are a lot of big tech businesses out there,” explains venture capitalist John Backus, as quoted by CS Monitor.

The area received yet more momentum in 2014 when the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced $45 million in grants for cybersecurity initiatives at Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as Boston’s MIT.

Meanwhile, in the past 15 years or so, San Francisco has evolved from a Silicon Valley bedroom community into a sizable hub for tech startups. The city has 31 companies on the Cybersecurity 500 index including OneLogin, Bay Dynamics, Appthority, Okta, CloudFlare, CloudPassage and Lookout.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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