On Thursday, November 2, Governor Hogan and local officials held the official groundbreaking ceremony for a cyber security facility being constructed in Fort Meade.

Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony saw the official start of the construction of the First Air National Guard’s 175th Cyberspace Operations Squadron facility. Once completed, the facility will be a high-tech, 9,000-square-foot building for government cyber operators — United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency — who work to protect classified information and cyber-attacks on the nation’s networks.

The fact that the National Security Agency’s headquarters is located at Fort Meade was a key factor in choosing the facility. As was the site’s proximity to Andrews Air Force Base and numerous federal and state agencies. The facility will provide close integration between the Air National Guard and U.S. Cyber Command as well as the nearby Headquarters of the Department of Justice, FBI and CIA.

The $6.6 million facility is projected to be complete by September 2018. It’s being constructed by the Ritz Construction Company of Maryland. The structure will be an eco-friendly building built as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Building which will meet the standards of a (SCIF) Sensitive Compartmental Information Facility.

The building will be owned by the state’s National Guard and operated under the direction of the governor, who said the facility will “answer a critical need of the Maryland National Guard”. Once complete, the primary mission at the facility will be to help protect the infrastructure of the U.S. Air Force’s information systems, as well as to provide security assistance to other state and local agencies, when necessary. It’s the very first government facility that will be solely dedicated to cyberspace operations.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, the governor and top military commanders stated that as hacking and network interference is becoming more of a threat, there’s more of a need for cyber security.

Alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election, the recent Equifax security breach, and other instances of cyber hacking have started to raise concerns, which has prompted more cyber security facilities at the U.S. Army installation and Cyber Security headquarters. However, detailed future  plans have not yet been revealed.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Hogan/Facebook.

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