- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) - Businesses are getting access to a new, secure computer lab in suburban Detroit that’s part of an effort to hone software and train specialists in cyberdefense.

The facility in Sterling Heights is linked to the Michigan Cyber Range, offering a place for training and exercises to simulate data hacks and test the effectiveness of software or networks for defense contractors, the auto industry and other businesses.

Jennifer Tisdale, cyberprogram manager for the defense and auto offices of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the lab is a place for businesses to work securely and should help boost collaboration between companies, the state and others on cybersecurity.

“This is an opportunity for us as a state to educate industry on what is coming and what they can do,” Tisdale said in an interview ahead off an opening event Friday.

The lab is located at the Velocity Collaboration Center, a business incubator. It’s expected to serve as a resource for companies developing connected and autonomous driving technologies, for example, as well as showcasing job opportunities in cybersecurity.

The lab is isolated from the rest of the Velocity center as part of an effort to keep the technology being used inside secure. Those going to work in the lab must leave their cellphones behind, Tisdale said, and what goes on inside is designed to stay secret.

Similar training centers are planned in other parts of the state, Tisdale said.

The Michigan Cyber Range is operated by Ann Arbor-based nonprofit Merit Network and offers a secure environment for cybersecurity education, training and testing. Oakland University, Macomb County, Sterling Heights and the New Economy Initiative are among others involved in the new lab.

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Online:

https://www.merit.edu/cyberrange

https://www.michigan.gov/cybersecurity

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