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Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Partners with MD National Guard on Cyber Security, PPP Accepting Applications Again

Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Partners with MD National Guard on Cyber Security, PPP Accepting Applications Again

April 27, 2020

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County’s Department of Technology and Communication Services (DTCS) announced a collaboration with the Maryland National Guard Joint Cyber Security Task Force to increase the county’s cyber protection during the pandemic State of Emergency. This partnership will bring additional support, augment Howard County’s existing capabilities, and raise cybersecurity readiness during this time of increased vulnerability.

“Howard County is the first county in Maryland to enlist the services of the Maryland National Guard to increase cyber readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Our team recognized the potential of increased cyber threats and worked swiftly with the National Guard to evaluate vulnerabilities and solutions.” 

Howard County began collaborating with the State of Maryland early in the COVID-19 crisis by sharing cybersecurity intelligence via the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC) Cyber Threat Analysis Section.  

In early April, Chip Stewart, CISO Maryland Department of Information Technology and the State of Maryland engaged the National Guard to evaluate 400 IPs and websites critical to the communication of information about the Governor’s response and was subsequently provided a 90+ page report of vulnerability findings to his team for action.  

“As we continue to leverage security best practices in protecting our governmental digital assets, as well as our citizen’s access to accurate information, we’re excited to be the first county to partner with the National Guard to increase our vigilance,” said Brandee Ganz, Howard County Director of DTCS. “During this critical time, it’s more important than ever to use all assets at our disposal to protect Howard County.”

The Maryland National guard possesses the ability to augment and support many state and county resources, one of them being Cyber. The Maryland National Guard Cyber Federal mission falls under the United States Cyber Command for both offensive and defensive cyber activities.

Paycheck Protection Program 

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is accepting applications again after more funding was allocated to the program. Business owners can apply online via the Howard County Economic Development Authority portal here.

The PPP provides up to $10 million in forgivable loans to assist businesses in keeping employees. Even if your business has already reduced employment, you are still eligible based on employment levels prior to February 15. 

Maryland Department of Health is offering a new program, Operation Roll Call, that provides a weekly or bi-weekly telephone call by a live person to offer support to veterans during this time of uncertainty. To be eligible, individuals must have served in the military, reside in the State of Maryland, have a working cell phone and/or landline, and provide an alternate person who can check on the individual if unable to be reached after 3 call attempts. Call 24/7 hotline, 1/877-770-4801, to request to be a part of the program and the Regional Resource Coordinator (RRC) will reach out to veterans to collect the necessary information to enroll.

Howard County Public School System has announced online graduation ceremonies will be held between Monday, June 1 and Tuesday, June 9, with specific dates and other details to be provided as soon as plans are finalized.

Each high school, as well as Cedar Lane School and the Homewood Center, will hold a virtual senior awards ceremony to highlight the many accomplishments of its Class of 2020 and announce the recipients of school and community awards and scholarships. Additionally, every school will host an in-person celebration, to be scheduled at a later date, to give seniors the opportunity to come together with their classmates. To read the complete details of HCPSS plans, please click here

Additionally, has provided more than 443,912 meals to students since schools closed in March. For a full list of Grab ‘N Go meal locations, please click here