Cyber Florida Executive Director Mike McConnell standing with Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee

The Florida Center for Cybersecurity, also known as Cyber Florida, was created by the State in 2014 to help Florida become a national leader in cybersecurity education, academic and practical research, and community outreach and engagement. Funded by the State and hosted by the University of South Florida, we work with all 12 institutions in Florida’s State University System and other public and private partners to achieve our mission. We work to build a robust pipeline of future professionals by introducing cyber safety and career awareness programs to K–12 schools and helping Florida’s public colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs that produce ready-to-hire graduates. We create and champion pathways for women and minorities, veterans and first-responders, and career changers to enter the field to help address our nation’s critical cyber workforce shortage. We invest in novel research that contributes to our nation’s competitive edge and conduct studies that yield new insights into cybercrime, privacy, user behavior, and organizational needs to help craft local, state, and national policy. Lastly, we engage millions of Floridians through awareness campaigns and host events and resources to help protect those populations and organizations that are most vulnerable to cybercrime.

Image: Cyber Florida Executive Director Mike McConnell stands with Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee at a Cybersecurity for Local Government workshop in February 2020.

OUR HISTORY

The Florida Center for Cybersecurity was established by the state legislature (Chapter 1004.444) in June 2014 to “position Florida and its related workforce as a national leader in cybersecurity through education, research, and community engagement.” Established under the auspices of the University of South Florida (USF), the center is charged to work with all 12 State University System of Florida (SUS) institutions to:

  • Assist in the creation of jobs in the state’s cybersecurity industry and enhance the existing cybersecurity workforce.
  • Act as a cooperative facilitator for state business and higher education communities to share cybersecurity knowledge, resources, and training.
  • Seek out partnerships with major military installations to assist, when possible, in homeland cybersecurity defense initiatives.
  • Attract cybersecurity companies to the state with an emphasis on defense, finance, health care, transportation, and utility sectors.

These words, taken directly from Chapter 1004.444 of the Florida statutes, are the basis for our three primary mission areas—education, research, and outreach.

What is cyberspace?

For many, cyberspace is an abstract concept, but in reality it touches almost every aspect of lives. From services such as banking, government, travel, shopping, dining, and healthcare to the computers in our cars, smart appliances, and medical devices, cyberspace is an integral component of the modern world. In this context, cybersecurity is protection from and resilience against potential harm or other unwanted coercive change caused by others in and from cyberspace, achieved through a confluence of technology, people, and policy.

OUR FUTURE

Now in our seventh year, Cyber Florida has established a growing cyber community in Florida and is influencing the national conversation under the guidance of a new strategic plan and a refocused and re-energized senior leadership team led by Executive Director Mike McConnell, VADM, USN, Ret., former director of US National Intelligence and the National Security Agency.

Cyber Florida has three overarching goals, each serving as a major line of effort as we work to achieve our vision of making Florida the most ‘cyber-secure’ state in the nation.

Strategic Goals & Objectives

  • Sub-goal 1.1: Increase Florida’s K-12 cybersecurity pipeline by helping to develop courses, curricula, students, and teachers.
  • Sub-goal 1.2: Increase the number and quality of cybersecurity and related degree programs and graduates.
  • Sub-goal 1.3: Sponsor and support cyber professional/vocational education activities for practitioners and other working adults.

Sub-goal 2.1: Expand, accelerate, and target Cyber Florida grant programs.
Sub-goal 2.2: Expand statewide cyber research collaboration and funding.
Sub-goal 2.3: Shape federal grant funding to create more SUS cybersecurity research opportunities.

Sub-goal 3.1: Improve the cybersecurity of Florida’s public and private sectors.
Sub-goal 3.2: Improve the cyber hygiene of Florida’s citizens.
Sub-goal 3.3: Develop and implement a public policy agenda.

Cyber Florida’s Strategic Plan