WORCESTER, MASS. – Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration kicked off Cybersecurity Month in Massachusetts with the announcement of $1,136,911 in funding to develop a new cybersecurity training center at MassBay Community College and support the existing center at Bridgewater State University. The grants are part of the state’s SOC/Range Initiative, a program managed by MassTech’s MassCyberCenter that aims to help build a diverse generation of cybersecurity professionals through education, training, and workforce development.
The funding demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to supporting cyber resiliency at the municipal level as the MassBay and Bridgewater State centers will feature security operations centers (SOCs) that provide active monitoring for municipalities and small businesses, as well as new training ranges that will allow students to practice detecting, intercepting, and defending against cyber attacks in controlled environments.
“Our administration is committed to supporting our municipalities in their efforts to expand the cybersecurity workforce,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Defending our technology against cyber threats is an increasingly important issue, and these grants will allow our cities and towns to train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”
“As a former mayor, I know that cyber attacks are a constant threat to municipalities. I’m pleased these awards will both support cities and towns in building their cybersecurity operations and expand opportunities for Massachusetts students to enter the cyber workforce,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “During the month of October, I encourage communities across the state to learn more about these new resources. Preparation, communication, and active monitoring are key to defending against online attacks.”
“The grants announced today will help advance our state’s key cyber security priorities by educating municipalities on best practices, building partnerships between the public and private sector, and training a future cyber workforce that can drive economic growth in our state,” said Secretary Yvonne Hao of the Executive Office of Economic Development. “We’re proud that this funding will promote online safety while also ensuring Massachusetts stays competitive in the modern economic environment.”
The announcement took place at the third Massachusetts Municipal Cybersecurity Summit, which brought together over 175 Massachusetts municipal leaders and IT staff, utility providers, and first responders to hear from federal and state government and private sector cybersecurity experts on best practices, emerging cybersecurity threats and how to defend against them, and the critical need to build a cyber-aware workforce. The Summit echoed the theme for Massachusetts Cybersecurity Month, “Be a Cybersecurity Hero,” and the Lt. Governor advocated for officials statewide to build a strong culture of cybersecurity within their communities.
“This Summit serves as such a vital part of strengthening our relationships with the municipalities to ensure that we are all working together and sharing resources,” said Secretary of Technology Services and Security Jason Snyder. “No matter the level of government, we face the same risks and share the same goal – ensuring the secure delivery of government services and protecting the data of the residents we all serve. It’s important to the Healey-Driscoll administration that we foster and sustain that cross-government collaboration.”
“The Summit highlights the two-fold mission of our organization: to strengthen the cybersecurity ecosystem across Massachusetts through technology and talent, and to bring together resources that will help us protect our public assets statewide, including our municipalities,” said John Petrozzelli, Director of the MassCyberCenter. “By supporting the launch of the new SOCs and Ranges, we will help bring new students into the cyber workforce who can graduate with the skills they need to make an immediate impact either in the private-sector or in a government role.”
"In today's ever-changing digital world, strengthening the Commonwealth's cyber defenses is more important than ever. The Healey-Driscoll Administration's investment in cyber training centers represents a meaningful step toward building a cyber workforce and empowering the future leaders of our digital ecosystem," said Susan Terrey, Deputy Secretary and Homeland Security Undersecretary for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. "We commend the MassCyberCenter and the MassTech Collaborative for their continued leadership and reaffirm EOPSS' commitment to working alongside our many federal, state, and local partners to safeguard against threats and protect Massachusetts residents from harm."
The grants from the MassCyberCenter will invest in cutting-edge infrastructure at the two institutions, providing students access to similar facilities found in the private sector, allowing for real-world training opportunities, and enabling them to advance into roles as SOC staff. Students will work with program advisors and technical experts using 21st century software to offer affordable cyber monitoring to municipalities, nonprofits, and small businesses that might not be able to afford ongoing threat detection services.
Below are the summaries of the two grants:
MassBay Community College
Grant Amount: $804,162
Details: MassBay Community College (MassBay) will host a cyber range on its Wellesley campus to assist students in the cybersecurity associates degree program and other cyber-related training programs. MassBay’s cyber range will also be available to its program partners, which include Bunker Hill Community College, Framingham State University, Framingham High School, Keefe Regional Technical School in Framingham, Roxbury Community College, and Waltham High School. The total award will include $498,162 to fund the infrastructure of the range and an additional $306,000 to support expenditures during its first year of operation.
Bridgewater State University
Total Amount: $332,749
Details: Bridgewater State University (BSU) is in process of building a cyber range on its main campus that was granted $1.2 million by the MassCyberCenter in 2022 to support existing undergraduate, graduate, and other educational cybersecurity programs. In addition to student training, BSU’s facility will also offer training and support for municipal partners, business partners, and nonprofits. The new award will fund the facility’s operations during its first year.
"MassBay Community College is extremely proud to be the recipient of a grant from the MassCyberCenter to fund a cyber range,” said President David Podell at MassBay Community College. “The cyber range will build on MassBay's longstanding and outstanding programs in Cybersecurity.We look forward to engaging our partners in higher education, K-12, municipalities and school districts, and businesses in cybersecurity training at an even higher level, thanks to the new resources provided by the MassCyberCenter.”
"This initiative is not just about enhancing our capabilities; it's about securing our digital future," said Steve Zuromski, Vice President of Technology and Chief Information Officer at Bridgewater State University. "We are grateful to the MassCyberCenter for their unwavering support through the OpEX grant, a pivotal force behind the establishment of the Cyber Range at Bridgewater State University. Alongside our valued partners at Mass Tech Collaborative and CyberTrust MA, this initiative bolsters our mission to position Massachusetts as a national cybersecurity leader. With their generous assistance, we stride confidently into a future where we cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”
“In recent years, the cyber threat environment has evolved, exposing vulnerabilities in our public institutions and municipalities,” said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who chairs the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity. “Today’s Summit is a great opportunity to come together and highlight the importance of cybersecurity for municipalities, and ensure that each city and town has the resources to adequately equip themselves for the cybersecurity challenges of today and the future.”
"Cybersecurity today is more important than ever, and municipal leaders are on the front lines of the battle against cyber criminals," said Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), who also chairs the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity. "I am thrilled that Mass CyberCenter is hosting this event to bring our public servants up to date on the latest threats, and share how they can protect themselves and their constituents. I am proud to work hand in hand with these individuals as the Legislature considers bills that will make our systems more robust and resilient."
The grant program has funded a network of four institutions statewide that are also supported by the work of CyberTrust Massachusetts, a nonprofit that aims to grow the cyber talent pipeline by increasing career pathways for underrepresented groups and supporting security operations at the new higher education centers.
An estimated 21 percent of ransomware attacks in 2023 targeted municipalities according to a report from Barracuda Networks, and the global IT company Sophos reported that six out of 10 state or local governments experienced a cyber attack during the same timeframe, highlighting the rise in threats to public organizations. The MassCyberCenter has focused on working with municipalities to protect their data and reduce the impact of these attacks and, in partnership with the Cyber Resilient Massachusetts Working Group, updated its “Minimum Baseline of Cybersecurity for Municipalities” to include the “Minimum Baseline of IT,” which specifically focuses on building an organization’s technical environment through enforcing multifactor authentication, creating a strong password policy, keeping computers and devices up-to-date with the latest patches or versions, and implementing a cybersecurity awareness training program for all employees to assist in identifying phishing and social engineering attacks.
About the MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative
The MassCyberCenter was launched in September 2017 to enhance opportunities for the Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem and strengthen the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s public and private communities. The MassCyberCenter works with cities, towns, universities, and the private sector to build cyber awareness, institute best practices, enhance future workforce talent, and create a more powerful cyber defense force to guard against future threats. Learn more at masscybercenter.org.