There are a handful of state-owned “cyber ranges” in the nation, including in Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia. But Georgia officials said the proposed training center would be one of the few to work with the private sector, local colleges and the military.
The new Georgia center would be near the cyber command headquarters at Fort Gordon, a $180 million facility that broke ground in late 2016. The complex is expected to employ more than 1,200 soldiers, civilians and contractors by the end of the decade.
Fort Gordon is already home to a major NSA facility with thousands of employees, as well as the U.S. Army Signal Center, which is the heart of the Army’s communications network. In all, the Defense Department plans to invest $2.1 billion in Fort Gordon to make it the home for the nation’s future cyberwarriors.
Intelligence officials are calling for more attention to cybersecurity amid warnings that Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s top campaign adviser.
President-elect Donald Trump, too, has called for more security to ward off hackers, warning that "somebody sitting on their bed" at home can wreak havoc on the nation's computer networks.
The governor’s office said the center will be able to collaborate with about seven different universities and private industries to provide training on the latest computer skills and techniques. It would research information security advances and house an incubator hub for cybersecurity startup companies to spawn new industries.
A list of courses that the facility would offer includes disaster recovery workshops, cloud security training and cyber analysis certification, according to state documents.
It is modeled in part after another state-owned facility for industry training. The Georgia Film Academy opened last year on a bustling Pinewood Studios campus in Fayette County, complete with a teaching stoundstage on site. Hundreds of students are to be trained to work in the state’s booming movie industry.
The governor’s office said Defense Department officers and officials from other military intelligence agencies will be on hand Wednesday for the State of the State address, where Deal will highlight the facility as a centerpiece of his funding proposal.
He said Tuesday that he sees the growing industry as a cornerstone to the state’s economy.
“The reality is cybersecurity is important because cybercrime is now bigger than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined,” Deal said. “It speaks volumes that Georgia will be home to this center of innovation and cyberdefense. This will be yet another star in our expanding constellation of excellence.”