Howard officials say AirPatrol growth reflects expanding role of cybersecurity

Columbia-based AirPatrol Corp. will expand its operation in Howard County nearly twofold, a move County Executive Ken Ulman said affirms Howard's reputation as a good place to do business in cybersecurity.

"This is a company we've had our eyes on for quite a while," said Ulman, adding that AirPatrol shows signs that it could grow significantly in the next five or 10 years.

After considering other locations in Maryland and Virginia, the company signed a lease to move a few miles south and west from its headquarters on Broken Land Parkway to Maple Lawn in Fulton.

AirPatrol will move to a three-story building in the Maple Lawn Corporate Center, a 20-acre business park within the Maple Lawn community of homes and stores, near U.S. 29 and Route 216.

The decision, Ulman said, shows that the county is "at the epicenter of the cybersecurity industry of our country, and we see significant growth going forward."

AirPatrol spokeswoman Lauren Edwards said the company expects to about double its local workforce, adding as many as 10 engineers and salespeople to its current roster of 12 employees in Howard County. She said the company now has 23 employees in the United States and Canada. The new space is nearly 5,200 square feet, about 75 percent larger than the current offices.

Other company officials could not be reached for comment, but in a release issued by the county, AirPatrol's chief technology officer, Guy Levy-Yurista, said the company had several choices for a new headquarters, and he praised Ulman and Lawrence Twele, head of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, whose "leadership … showed us why this is the right decision."

Twele said the county offered the company a $100,000 conditional loan to help with workforce development, but the terms of that incentive have not been settled. Ulman said the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development also took part in negotiations about incentives, and those talks are still going on.

Twele and Ulman said they met several times with company officials. He said company executives were considering moving closer to many of their clients in Northern Virginia, but he and Ulman emphasized Howard's well-educated workforce and location near Fort Meade in Odenton, headquarters of the U.S. Cyber Command.

Edward said the company does not release its annual sales figures or its number of clients, a combination of both government agencies and private corporations.

Founded in 2006, AirPatrol provides security for mobile devices. In an interview published on the MD Biz News website this year, Levy-Yurista said one of the company's products provides a way to track mobile devices in a particular location, and automatically shut down the camera and microphone functions temporarily to protect sensitive information.

This is the second piece of Howard cybersecurity news in a couple weeks. Last week, technology giant Cisco Systems announced it would buy Sourcefire Inc., a locally founded cybersecurity firm, for $2.7 billion cash.

Sourcefire employs about 650 people, 320 of them in Columbia.

At the moment, it's not clear how much of Howard's 190,000-member workforce is employed in some form of cybersecurity, but Twele said about 50 companies in the county are involved in the field in one way or another.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad