Colorado Springs’ National Cybersecurity Center prepares for massive expansion

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COLORADO SPRINGS – Three and a half years ago, then-Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers came up with a plan to create a hub for cybersecurity training and businesses in the city.

Three and a half years later Hickenlooper, a Democrat now is in the U.S Senate, and Suthers, a conservative mayor, returned to the building that is now that hub—the National Cybersecurity Center off North Nevada.

“Some of us didn’t know a whole lot about cybersecurity, but we were smart enough to know it was part of our future,” Suthers said.

The visit comes on the cusp of a massive expansion for the building that will double the workable space in the building.

A blueprint showing the planned expansion of the NCC. Yello shows the Space Information Sharing Analysis Center. Blue will be the new home to the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Cybersecurity program.

“Seeing all the build-out that has happened, I think it is one of the most exciting days since I got elected to the U.S Senate,” Sen. Hickenlooper said.

It comes as the Senator pushes to include $47 Billion into the bipartisan infrastructure plan to go to cybersecurity programs and making infrastructure more resilient.

The Space ISAC will focus on cybersecurity in three areas—Supply Chain, Business Systems, and Space Missions. It will bring together leaders in the space-related cybersecurity industry to share and discuss threat analysis and intelligence to protect both commercial and defense interests in space.

Eventually, the NCC will train leaders and lawmakers from all 50 states on cybersecurity.

“It’s making sure [lawmakers] understand, for the safety and security of their states, they really need to get behind this effort,” Suthers said.

That’s high-level cybersecurity, but the NCC is also looking at smaller operations, like small businesses and small governments, to give them the tools needed to defend against cyber attacks.

“The real foundation here is the education of cybersecurity. The demands and needs for cybersecurity-trained individuals, not only in Colorado but nationwide and worldwide is absolutely significant,” said Harry Raduege, the CEO of the NCC.

With UCCS’s move into the facility, training at all levels of expertise will be available. Currently, there is a large industry focus on graduate-level, engineering-related cybersecurity degrees.

UCCS will open the first bachelor’s program and certificate program in the CU system to be offered to students, lowering the barrier for smaller organizations to access trained professionals.

“It’s the smaller and mid-sized businesses that are relying on organizations like this to help them achieve the knowledge and expertise they need,” Suthers said.

As the blueprint shows, the UCCS center is just down the hall from the Space ISAC and other office space in the NCC building. That creates an easy in for students and access to expertise for the entire department.

“Think about the opportunities there,” said Dr. Venkat Reddy, the chancellor of UCCS. “They’re interacting with NCC, they’re interacting with the industry. Our students get to talk to all these folks. The opportunities that we are going to give them, they’re going to be better prepared than students coming out from other schools.”

Dr. Reddy has been working with Sen. Hickenlooper and Mayor Suthers from the outset on creating the revolutionary space. Raduege is a retired Lieutenant General from the Air Force. To Hickenlooper, it represents the collaboration needed to be a national model for a robust approach to cybersecurity.

“You walk through this place and you see the integration between the defense of this country and our military and the university and the research that allows us to be the leading nation on earth. Then you see that integration with the city government, the state government where everyone is working together,” he said. “This is what makes great cities, great states, it’s what makes great countries.

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