ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Location may be important in real estate. But it’s also a factor in Maryland’s growing role as a front line in cybersecurity.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s about to grow some more.

In the wrong hands, the hardware and programs that run the web are capable of telling other machines, like power plant generators, to self-destruct.

“We’ve got to be ready here in case something like that unleashes on our electric grid, on our water system, on our finance,” said Ed Jaehne, KEYW chief strategic officer.

That briefing was delivered last February to Gov. Martin O’Malley by a private cybersecurity firm drawn to Maryland by the federal agencies that work in this state and need protection from hackers.

It’s a security need that’s grown 9,000 jobs in Maryland.

At first the focus was on preventing the catastrophic.

“A cyber event can cause the same kind of damage a bomb does,” Jaehne said.

But this past holiday season — with massive hacking of retailers like Target — highlights the need for a new front line for cybersecurity.

“We’ve been hacked, but we don’t want to be had,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland.

In a statehouse ceremony, federal, state and private enterprises signed on to commit to an expanded national cybersecurity center in Montgomery County to innovate new defenses and new businesses against “cybersecurity threats to your personal identification, to your credit card security, to your records,” Mikulski said.

Because in the cyber world, there’s plenty of room to do wrong.

Tuesday’s agreement brings $15 million in federal money to expand the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

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