SC Cyber is a statewide initiative, based at the University
of South Carolina and with partners across all levels of
academia, industry, and government, with a mission to
develop the talent, techniques, and tools to defend
critical, connected infrastructure within South Carolina
and the United States.
In support of this mission, SC Cyber will create and offer
programs for training and workforce development,
education, advanced technology development
and commercialization, and critical infrastructure
Introduction & Background
Governance & Leadership
Increasingly our livelihoods – and even our lives – are in the hands of millions of connected, software-dependent devices. The advent of the internet has led to advances that were previously unimaginable, and we have only begun to scratch the surface of the opportunities that these new technologies present. Progress is not with out its challenges, however, and our newfound connectivity brings with it a host of threats to our security and privacy.
Almost daily, there are reports of major breaches of critical systems leading to theft of sensitive information and damage to property – both intellectual and physical – with many more going unreported or unnoticed.
Just as developing the technology to power the internet has created countless opportunities for
individuals, companies, and entire communities, developing and skillfully deploying the next
generation of cybersecurity solutions presents immense opportunities. With a combination of
assets spanning academia, government, and industry, South Carolina is uniquely positioned to
capitalize on these opportunities to better protect citizens of the state and the nation while
creating substantial economic benefit.
In mid-2014, representatives of the state’s leading academic institutions, private industry, and
federal, state, and local government organizations met to discuss the strengths, weaknesses,
opportunities, and challenges facing our state in the realm of cybersecurity. These
organizations discovered a common thread of need with each of the partners being able to
support and contribute in part. Seeking to merge the strengths of the partners and to realize a
collective impact greater than the sum of its individual parts, these groups came together to
form SC Cyber.
At its core, the mission of SC Cyber is to develop the talent, techniques, and tools to defend
critical, connected infrastructure within South Carolina. In support of this mission, SC Cyber
and its partners identified a set of pressing needs for the state:
1. There is a shortage of cybersecurity talent possessing the necessary skills, experience,
and the academic and industry credentials to fill current and anticipated openings, and
current initiatives are not training qualified candidates at a sufficient rate.
2. There is a lack of awareness among industry and government leadership of the
cybersecurity threats faced by organizations and that lack of awareness is contributing
to poor resource allocation and a failure to make security-conscious decisions.
3. New technologies are needed to identify and address threats – both new and existing –
to critical infrastructure around the state while existing technologies need a faster path
for validation and adoption by the market.
4. There is a need for the ability to rapidly share information among stakeholders as it is
crucial to improving the overall security posture of the state and to preventing and
SC Cyber, both internally and through a variety of partnerships, seeks to develop programs that
address these identified needs. These programs fall broadly into five target areas: training and
workforce development, education, advanced technology development and commercialization,
knowledge management, and critical infrastructure protection. The following sections describe
the early progress and current thinking regarding potential programs and opportunities.
One of the most significant, immediate needs is workforce development. This includes training
new cybersecurity professionals, enhancing the credentialing of existing professionals, or
retraining existing IT professionals so as to quickly add value in new, in-demand cybersecurity
positions and augment the state’s cybersecurity workforce.
According to the most recent Burning Glass report, cybersecurity jobs in South Carolina have
grown 134% in the last five years – outpacing the national rate of 91% – and there are more
than 2,300 jobs currently unfilled in the state. In addition to the breakneck pace of growth,
these jobs are highly lucrative, paying on average 9% more than other IT jobs. Certain, highly regarded credentials such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) carry even higher salaries and prestige premiums.
SC Cyber has identified two early opportunities to create workforce development capabilities.
The first opportunity – internally or through support of partners – is to deliver training and
certification programs based on existing, highly-regarded programs. Beyond training
cybersecurity professionals, SC Cyber will produce, based on already existing materials and in
collaboration with its partners, new executive education programs to provide current best
practices in threat analysis, infrastructure protection, and security management to senior
leadership in business, government, and law.
Working with academic and industry partners, SC Cyber will support efforts to improve
cybersecurity education statewide, spanning K-12 through postgraduate studies. SC Cyber has
a unique opportunity to provide a connection point to allow faculty from partner academic institutions, professionals from industry, and leaders from government to contribute
knowledge and materials that can be drawn upon by all stakeholders.
At the K-12 level, SC Cyber will partner with organizations to enhance
curricula already being developed, as well as to provide material support and additional
connections to industry mentors, instructors, and specialists. Through partnerships with
organizations like the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, SC Cyber and its
statewide collaborators can enhance education for teachers and help them to prepare students
to safely participate in the digital world.
At the college and university level, SC Cyber will primarily provide a repository for sharing
among faculty specialists from the University of South Carolina (USC)’s NSA Center of
Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education & Research and the new NSA CAE
at The Citadel, across partner institutions, and from industry professionals. By providing direct
access to specialized, industry-focused educational materials and personnel, SC Cyber can help
faculty across the state teach students timely, practical skills in addition to the required
One of the greatest potential contributions to the security of the state’s critical infrastructure is
the rapid sourcing, development, testing, and adoption of advanced cybersecurity technology.
Given its capabilities, its university and small business partners, and its unique ability to
connect early-stage, entrepreneurial teams with corporate or government mentorship, SC
Cyber has an immense opportunity to accelerate technology development and
commercialization among its partners.
Through partnerships with the statewide innovation centers, accelerators, and similar
initiatives, SC Cyber has the capability to connect cross-disciplinary teams of researchers,
business professionals, and corporate mentors for the quick development of targeted solutions
that can be rapidly tested, adopted by partners, and brought to market.
Knowledge Management & Protection
A recurring theme in preparedness is the need for information sharing; this critically important
need has been echoed throughout the early meetings of SC Cyber. Through real-time
communication tools and channels, in-person meetings and exercises, and an annual Cyber
Summit, SC Cyber will provide mechanisms for partners to collaborate on timely, critical issues
facing their respective institutions.
In addition to traditional information sharing, SC Cyber and its partners are working to offer
software and technology solutions for the benefit of the group. For example, through
partnerships with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the SC
National Guard, SC Cyber will offer advanced threat detection tools to industry and
government entities statewide and build a technology platform and process that is exportable as
a model to the rest of the country.
Within the University, SC Cyber is a part of the USC Office of Economic Engagement (OEE).
SC Cyber staff are USC employees or contractors and report to the Executive Director of SC
Cyber, who in turn reports to the Deputy Director of OEE.
Initially, SC Cyber is organized as a program within the University of South Carolina. Although
housed at and administered within USC, SC Cyber is tasked to provide academically agnostic
support and programs. The decision to create SC Cyber within USC was made to allow access
to initial funding, staff, and administrative support and serves to provide SC Cyber a runway to
develop early programs and membership such that it becomes self-sufficient.
In the long term as SC Cyber grows in scope and scale, it will evaluate – with input of its
strategic advisors – any potential changes of organizational structure, considering the then
current financial position, administrative requirements, and ability to deliver the desired
programs and services. There are several potential organizational structures, using existing or
new entities, which could serve to advance SC Cyber in the future.
Governance & Leadership
SC Cyber is led by an Executive Director who is responsible for the overall execution of SC
Cyber’s mission, to include program execution and satisfaction of grant and program
deliverables. The Executive Director has discretion, with the advice of SC Cyber’s advisors, to
hire additional staff members as needed as well as draw upon the support of OEE staff and
additional resources across USC.
Two groups of advisors provide SC Cyber with strategic, technical, and tactical support. These
groups, designed to provide distinct but complementary levels of contribution, are as follows:
1. The Strategic Advisory Board (SAB) is responsible for providing integrated, long-term
strategic planning and oversight for the organization. The SAB is comprised of thought
leaders in various fields of expertise across academic, industry, and government whose
knowledge, expertise, and influence provide a unique ability to guide the direction of an
organization such as SC Cyber. The broad theme and strategic vision crafted by the
SAB will be expanded and advised by the EC and executed by the ED and staff.
2. The Executive Committee (EC) is responsible for providing frequent, largely tactical
support to the Executive Director to include program content, event planning, technical
advisory, partner development, and general administration. The EC has been largely
responsible for the strategic development of SC Cyber to date and represents a highlyactive
and talented group of experts across a variety of academic, industry, and