Market Insights

Cybersecurity 2.0 in San Antonio: The Cyber City

Reported by the Business Facilities Staff – October 8, 2020, From the September/October 2020 Issue

San Antonio, TX was leading in cybersecurity before the industry even had a name. Since 1948 when the U.S. Air Force established its Security Service operations in San Antonio, the region’s ability to collaborate across the military, industry, and academia has grown the nation’s leading cybersecurity hub.

The San Antonio region delivers what other communities promise: access to job ready-people and proximity to the Department of Defense (DoD). San Antonio has the largest pool of certified experts outside of D.C. and is home to U.S. Air Force Cyber HQ, NSA Texas, a massive private sector presence, and the connectivity and power infrastructure companies need. Today, San Antonio is owning its title as Cyber City.


Military units have consistently had a presence in San Antonio for 300 years—the U.S military since the 1800s. With one of the nation’s largest active and retired military populations, San Antonio has what other cities try to replicate—unparalleled access to DoD assets, innovations, and talent. San Antonio is Cyber City, but it couldn’t claim that distinction without first being Military City, U.S.A.

Because of the sensitive nature of their work, it is difficult to get an accurate headcount of the number of security and cyber professionals in the region. San Antonio’s more than 100 private sector cyber companies employ more than 16,000, and sources estimate that upwards of 80,000 could be employed by various agencies across San Antonio.

The Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) is headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and across the runway on the adjacent Port San Antonio technology campus. The first-of-its-kind numbered Air Force is responsible for information warfare, encompassing intelligence gathering and analysis, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare operations.

In addition, the National Security Agency (NSA) Central Security Service Texas Cryptologic Center is based in San Antonio conducting worldwide signals intelligence, cyberspace, and cybersecurity operations. The FBI Cyber Division in San Antonio addresses cyber threats allowing the FBI to stay technologically one step ahead of threats to the nation. The Cyber Division supports FBI priorities across counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and other criminal investigations when aggressive technological investigative assistance is required. Six satellite offices (Austin, Brownsville, Del Rio, Laredo, McAllen, and Waco) surround the main office in San Antonio.

With the Military as a foundational part of San Antonio’s economy and massive headquarters who serve them, like United Services Automobile Association (USAA), San Antonio is a natural testing ground for technology, processes, systems modernization, education, and every other aspect of the cyber industry.

“San Antonio is at the intersection of military and business, which gives us a unique ecosystem of R&D, innovation and industry. Our military, FBI and NSA presence improves network infrastructure and creates an atmosphere for technology innovators to connect with corporations and investors. These assets—coupled with our leading cyber cluster and fast-growing financial sector—have grown a sustainable, multidisciplinary workforce in San Antonio and ample opportunities for military service members, spouses and families,” said Wayne Peacock, USAA CEO.


San Antonio’s private sector and education institutions are leading the way in innovative partnerships.

Port San Antonio is reimagining the former Kelly Air Force Base as a technology innovation destination through the organization’s Tech Port vision, which is leveraging its large industrial platform as a unique place that connect people, industry, educators, and buyers and sellers to accelerate the development and delivery of innovative technology solutions to some of the world’s largest industries. Key global sectors that are connecting with the Port’s technology campus include aerospace, energy, defense, cybersecurity, financial services, medicine, manufacturing, and supply-chain logistics. Today, more than 14,000 work on Port San Antonio’s 1,900-acre site, which is home to more than 80 employers, including industry leaders like Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, StandardAero, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, as well as major DoD headquarters and other national security operations.

The Port’s strategic vision, which has helped create nearly 4,000 new jobs since 2018, will be bolstered through its upcoming state-of-the-art Innovation Center. Scheduled for completion in early 2022, the unique facility will allow the San Antonio community, educators, and technology employers to come together to strengthen the region’s technology ecosystem, collaboratively develop new solutions and market them to industries around the world. The center will include an industry showroom, technology museum, maker/R&D space, and a technology arena and convention space—all under one roof.

“This development will be first of its kind, for San Antonio and the nation. By building an ecosystem in San Antonio that is exciting and easily accessible to millions of individuals and empowers them so they can be part of that tidal change—through education, through employment and as innovators and entrepreneurs—we keep raising our profile as a leading innovation destination. This will accelerate job and economic growth in our region, and it will increasingly allow us to compete globally based on the value of our technology and the talent of our people,” said Port San Antonio chief executive officer Jim Perschbach.

Expanding on education and industry partnerships, UTSA not only has the nation’s top cybersecurity degree program but also boasts a robust, collaborative research ecosystem related to cyber. The university’s National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) is leading the effort to increase collaboration among government, industry, and academia to overcome the most significant challenges and threats to national security. A new world-class education center, collaboration center and School of Data Science is set to open in the heart of downtown San Antonio in 2022.

The NSCC currently operates on the Main Campus with embedded federal, state and industry partners, including 30 new partners as the NSCC expands with new lab and R&D workspace.

“UTSA is answering the national call for greater collaboration across industries by bringing together the brightest minds from academia, government and the private sector to engage in research and uncover transdisciplinary solutions,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “The NSCC is serving as a catalyst for national security research, education and workforce development in our state and nation.”

The Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) at UTSA develops “technical innovations and an “energy-ROI” that drives a cybersecurity future to advance U.S. manufacturing innovation and global manufacturing leadership” says Dr. Howard Grimes, CEO of CyManII. Having been selected for funding up to 70 million dollars by the Department of Energy, CyManII is a collaborative institute with over 22 university members, 31 industrial members and three national labs including Sandia National Laboratories, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory. Reflecting an array of deep expertise in cybersecurity, smart and energy-efficient manufacturing, supply chains, factory automation and workforce development, CyManII hopes to secure digital transformations that will continue to propel U.S. innovation in manufacturing for decades to come.

LevelUP Code Works is a recently formed joint venture between the Air Force and the private sector focused on modernizing military systems and developing secure applications for use by the armed forces. LevelUP chose to locate in the heart of San Antonio’s downtown tech corridor to build their team of 400 individuals to include military, Air Force civilians, and industry partners spanning from traditional national defense firms to non-traditional small companies.

For the top nine cyber degrees and certifications sought by employers, San Antonio ranks third in the nation. Each year, San Antonio’s five NSA Centers of Academic Excellence and other higher education cyber programs produce 1000 grads with cyber skills. The NSA centers include the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Texas A&M University-San Antonio (TAMU-SA), Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio College, and St. Phillip’s College, which offers a Cyber First Responder certification.

UTSA’s cybersecurity programs have been ranked #1 in the nation by Hewlett-Packard/Ponemon Institute, preparing students for in-demand analyst and developer roles at America’s top companies. More than 3,000 students are enrolled in four graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity programs annually. Upon completing the program, many graduates choose to stay and work in San Antonio for Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital Group, Digital Defense, NSA, and USAA, as well as fast-growing small companies like Inc. 5000-listed CNF Technologies. Additionally, UTSA offers a 100 percent online BBA in cybersecurity.

TAMU-SA offers four bachelor’s programs and one master’s program in cybersecurity. All students graduating from the BS-CS, BBA-CIS, and the BAAS-IT programs with Cyber Security concentrations are eligible to get the NSA/DHS Cyber Defense Education Certificate upon graduation. Our Lady of the Lake University has a unique Master of Science program aimed at working IT professionals to upskill and certify them in various cybersecurity disciplines.

San Antonio’s skilled talent pipeline includes Active Duty Military Personnel retiring or separating from service account. Companies like USAA, Bank of America, and H- E-B work with local workforce development teams to target these individuals and retain them in the market.

To read more on Cybersecurity 2.0, please visit