Leading the way in cybersecurity

By Gov. Kristi Noem

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Like. Double-tap. Send. Retweet. It’s second-nature for us.

Every day, a typical American will spend more than 11 hours interacting with media. On average, we check our phones every 12 minutes – immersing ourselves in screens more than 80 times per day. You hardly need me to point out the ever-increasing dependency on connected technologies in our everyday lives.

But while the connectedness of our networks and devices bolsters convenience in an astounding way, that convenience brings heightened vulnerability. 

Over a six month span last year, 4.5 billion personal records were compromised by cyber thieves. In 2017, cyberattacks on mobile devices increased by over 40 percent with an average of more than 1.2 million attacks per month. The cost of cyberattacks is climbing, and the vulnerability of businesses to attacks is on the rise. 

The need to address this problem is in high-demand. The global cybersecurity market is set to grow from its current value of more than $120 billion to over $300 billion by 2024. As the market increases, so will job opportunities. By 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs around the world, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. These are the high-paying jobs our kids will depend on to raise their families.

Here’s the good news: South Dakota is ready to lead the way.

Earlier this month, I visited Dakota State University in Madison – one of the most technologically-advanced universities in the Midwest. DSU is making significant investments in their cyber mission with the recent completion of the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences and new construction of the Madison Cyber Labs.

These programs are producing graduating classes of well-qualified cyber professionals that are being tapped by leading intelligence agencies and federal contractors. Our priority must be not only in training this workforce, but also in attracting or creating companies in South Dakota to keep our graduates here at home, with great jobs and a way of life they love.

It makes sense, too. Aside from the second-to-none talent pipeline of DSU, South Dakota offers technology companies an off-the-beaten-path location that has value in and of itself. With our low population density, lack of skyscrapers, and land-locked location, our geography is an asset for intelligence security, not a liability.

What’s more, South Dakota’s business climate is top in the nation for companies of all types. Our state’s limited business taxes and costs give businesses a competitive edge by helping them keep the money they make so they can continue to invest in their company’s growth.

In late April, I was proud to bring this message to the Center of Academic Excellence for Cybersecurity at their national meeting. It was great to meet with industry leaders and corporations looking for new places to do business. I’m confident they will see that South Dakota has the talent, the know-how, the needed facilities, and the optimal geographic location for a resilient cybersecurity industry.

We are ready to lead the way.

—By Gov. Kristi Noem