New state cybersecurity center opens on Gulf Coast

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 6:03 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A massive collaboration of agencies across the nation resulted in a new cybersecurity center located in Gulfport.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday morning marked the official opening of the new Mississippi Cyber Center.

“The U.S. faces many serious security challenges this decade,” Col. Laura King said in a speech.

King is the commander of the 81st Training Group at Keesler Air Force Base, which is the second-largest technical training location in the U.S. Air Force.

It produces about 6,000 cyber professionals each year.

“The complexity of our scenarios we face in defending our nation require cooperative and innovative partnerships with local, state and federal partners to protect the U.S. national and security interests,” she said.

The base teamed up with many other sectors to make the cyber center in Harrison County happen. They include Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Mississippi State University and local, state and federal agencies.

“The collaborative expertise of academia, the private sector, state, federal and local government, law enforcement, U.S. Department of Defense and the Mississippi National Guard, there are not many models of that kind of partnership that exist,” MGCCC President Mary Graham said.

The newly renovated building located on the MGCCC Harrison County Campus now houses three labs, classrooms and equipment that support about 15 different law enforcement agencies, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Keesler and students of all grades levels.

“We have a great Board of Trustees who allowed us to use a facility that we were able to turn into something quite magnificent,” Graham said.

It was a $3.5 million investment that now serves as the Mississippi Cyber Initiative Headquarters.

Work inside the facility is already underway.

“Even prior to the official ribbon-cutting, we’ve already been involving a number of the state agencies such as the MBI and the Department of Public Safety in some of the forensics work that we’re doing,” MSU Vice President David Shaw told WLOX.

MSU has hired three people to man the center.

“This is just the beginning point,” Shaw said. “The Mississippi Gulf Coast is truly going to become a national leader in cyber security.”

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