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NM poised to tap into rapid growth of cybersecurity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With cyber crime growing exponentially, cybersecurity products and services are emerging as a premier 21st-century industry.

As of 2014, a joint report by Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., estimated that cyber attacks were costing businesses worldwide about $445 billion per year and possibly up to $575 billion. U.S. firms alone were losing $100 billion annually, leading to the loss of about 200,000 jobs a year, according to the report.

The aggression is coming from a range of cyber criminals, including groups seeking to steal money and property, professional hackers trying to acquire trade secrets and other data, and foreign governments conducting espionage against other countries.

That, in turn, is turning cybersecurity into a huge growth industry. Worldwide, spending on information security reached $75 billion in 2015, according to research consultant Gartner Inc. And that’s projected to grow to $170 billion annually by 2020.

The U.S. government alone is expected to spend $65.5 billion on cybersecurity between 2015 and 2020, according to Market Research Media Ltd. The White House’s fiscal year budget for cybersecurity is projected at $19 million for FY 2017, a 35 percent increase from FY 2016.

As cybersecurity-related business grows, New Mexico may be well poised to tap the market.

The state is already a major source of innovation in the cyber defense realm, thanks to cutting-edge research and development at New Mexico’s national laboratories and research universities. That’s led to new products and services entering the market, such as the comprehensive software-as-a-service defense platform that Albuquerque-based cybersecurity firm RiskSense now offers to businesses and organizations.

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In addition, New Mexico universities are churning out highly educated cyber professionals, many of whom cut their chops as interns or employees at the national labs before going on to top-ranking positions in industry, said RiskSense CEO Srinivas Mukkamala.

“New Mexico’s labs and universities have produced some amazing cybersecurity research and some of the nation’s best cyber professionals,” Mukkamala said. “Several of the mid- to senior-level industry executives across the country are graduates of our universities, or people who interned or worked at the national labs here.”

Given the state’s cyber assets, local and state officials believe New Mexico could become a hub for the cybersecurity industry.

“It’s one of our focal points,” said Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela. “The cybersecurity industry is growing dramatically and the technology we’re developing here is cutting edge.”

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