CyberTrust Massachusetts Non-Profit Will Bolster Training & Local Resiliency, Backed by $1 Million State Award
Additional $2.7 Million in Grants to Support Cyber Ranges and Security Operations Centers in Bridgewater & Springfield
BRIDGEWATER – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration and the MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative announced two new initiatives to promote the development of a diverse cybersecurity workforce and improve local cyber resiliency in the Commonwealth, supported by over $3.7 million in state grants. The announcements were made during the 6th Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum at Bridgewater State University, which brought together 100 executives from companies, municipalities, and leading universities.
The awards include a $1,086,476 grant to support the launch of CyberTrust Massachusetts, a new non-profit that will work with business and academia statewide to grow the cybersecurity talent pipeline by increasing career pathways for underrepresented groups, and promote security operations to address the day-to-day needs of resource-constrained municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses.
The Commonwealth also announced a separate investment, totaling $2,662,995, to support the establishment of two facilities to bolster workforce and security, including awards to Bridgewater State University ($1,200,000) and to Springfield Technical Community College ($1,462,995) for a project housed at Springfield’s Union Station. Each project will establish security operation centers, or SOCs, to provide threat monitoring and other cybersecurity services for Commonwealth municipalities and small business/non-profit customers. The funds will also establish cyber ranges in both locations, new testing labs which will mirror real-world IT environments to provide hands-on training opportunities available to local companies, universities, and other cyber-focused organizations.
“We’re seeking to establish Massachusetts as the national leader when it comes to cybersecurity infrastructure,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “Through today’s awards, we’re bringing together leading academic partners and businesses to support cyber resiliency and workforce development in the Commonwealth.”
“These facilities will provide a wonderful opportunity for our Massachusetts students and workers to get the hands-on skills training they need to enter into cybersecurity careers,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “At the same time, these new centers will offer cost-effective security monitoring to support small towns, businesses, and nonprofits, protection that is becoming increasingly important for these institutions.”
“The MassCyberCenter was built around a focus on collaboration and the new security operation centers and cyber ranges in Bridgewater and Springfield will echo that mission,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “MassCyberCenter is known for convening monthly working groups and events that allow us to collectively focus on meaningful cybersecurity actions. By enhancing municipal cybersecurity, we also protect the critical financial and information assets held by our cities and towns, keeping them in our public coffers and saving money in the long term.”
“Through our Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Grant Program and the Community Compact IT Grant Program, the Commonwealth has made clear investments in the cybersecurity resources of our cities and towns,” said Secretary Curt Wood of the Executive Office of Technology Security and Services (EOTSS). “For many communities, ongoing cyber monitoring is not feasible financially, which is why the SOCs can have an important role to play, providing monitoring at a fraction of the cost, while at the same time training our next-generation cyber workers.”
”Cybersecurity will continue to grow in importance, as our cities, towns, and businesses move more and more process online,” said Carolyn Kirk, Executive Director of the MassTech Collaborative, the parent agency of the MassCyberCenter. “As a former mayor, I know how important budget decisions can be at the local level, both for municipalities but also for the small businesses in a community. Investing in our cyber defenses makes good business sense for our state, our municipalities, and our private sector.”
CyberTrust Massachusetts was launched to address four key imperatives for the state:
- Undersecurity: Organizations across Massachusetts, especially municipalities, small businesses, and non-profits, are challenged to find affordable resources to defend themselves against growing cybersecurity threats and maintain cyber resiliency.
- Underemployment: The growing supply shortage of trained workers available to meet the cybersecurity industry’s workforce demands, highlighted by the 20,000-plus total cybersecurity job openings in Massachusetts according to CyberSeek. Communities of color and women are underrepresented in the cybersecurity workforce and are frequently overlooked for employment due to a lack of opportunity to obtain hands-on cybersecurity experience.
- Employee Training: Businesses across the Commonwealth do not have a location to send their employees to receive cybersecurity training at an affordable rate.
- Business/Economic Development: There is a need to convene regional hubs for business development where cybersecurity entrepreneurs can establish and grow startups or where specific industry segments such as defense contractors can receive specialized support.
“This first-of-its-kind collaboration among business, higher ed, and government through CyberTrust Massachusetts could transform our cyber education and training--growing our workforce and creating new opportunities statewide--while helping to make our communities more cyber resilient,” said Pete Sherlock, CEO, CyberTrust Massachusetts.
“Leaders in the state's cyber security ecosystem have been contributing to the establishment of Cyber Trust Massachusetts because they see the imperative to help protect the under-secured and are passionate about training the next generation of our cyber workforce, including those from currently underrepresented populations,” Jay Ash, Chair, Board of Directors, CyberTrust Massachusetts and President & CEO, Mass Competitive Partnership. “As I talk around the state to cyber security entities and other businesses in fields like finance, healthcare, consumer services, and more, there is a real appreciation for all that the CTM's public/private partnership has to offer.”
In February 2022, the MassCyberCenter released a Request for Responses seeking expressions of interest from qualified entities interested in establishing a SOC and/or a Cyber Range facility, to support the dual missions around cybersecurity workforce development and for protection against cyber threats. Seven expressions of interest were received, including proposals from Bridgewater State University and Springfield Technical Community College to develop both SOC and Range facilities in their respective regions of the state.
“We see these as the initial investments in a cyber secure future, important investments to build out our plan for a ‘Cyber Resilient Massachusetts,’” said Stephanie Helm, Director of the MassCyberCenter. “The key word is ‘resilient,’ as no organization is successful 100% of the time when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. With the new monitoring capabilities, organizations can increase awareness, detect intrusions faster, and respond more quickly to an incident.”
The two proposals were selected for awards from the MassCyberCenter to support capital expenditures related to the construction of these facilities, which will become the initial Cybersecurity Centers of Excellence under CyberTrust Massachusetts and dues-paying members of the non-profit. Summaries of the two grants are as follows:
- Bridgewater State University (BSU)
- Grant Amount: $1,200,000
- Location: BSU’s Dana Mohler-Faria Science and Math Building, Bridgewater, Mass.
- Project summary: BSU’s new facilities will serve existing and newly-created undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education offerings in cybersecurity and computer science, as well as regional municipal, non-profit, and business partners seeking training in cybersecurity and the support of a SOC.
The main Cyber Range (expected to open summer 2023) will have the capacity to train up to 24 students in person per session, along with remote participants, and will be engineered with a state-of-the-art audio/visual and lighting control system, as well as welcome center to greet guests, an AV control room, and an executive debriefing room with space, with hybrid/Zoom capabilities. The new funding for BSU’s Range will complement other funding sources, including a Commonwealth Workforce Skills Capital Grant and a federally funded earmark.
BSU plans to launch a SOC to complement the Range, allocating approximately 1,000 square feet in an administrative building, with an expected opening by late 2023/early 2024. The grant funds will be used for construction costs, lighting, A/V, and enhanced IT (door access control, network infrastructure, video surveillance).
- Springfield Technical Community College (STCC)
- Grant Amount: $1,462,995
- Location: Union Station, Springfield, Mass.
- Project summary: STCC is the lead entity which will develop both a Cyber Range and SOC within the City of Springfield’s Union Station complex, serving Western Massachusetts and beyond. STCC will staff and operate the facility in partnership with a consortia of area higher education institutions (Bay Path University, UMass Amherst, Western New England University, Elms College, and Springfield College), each of which bring a range of undergraduate certificate and degree programs in IT/Security, Cybersecurity, Computer Science and Programming, Digital Forensics, and Criminal Justice.
The grant to STCC will cover renovation and construction of the Union Station space, which is estimated to open in Q1/Q2 2024, based on the initial timeline provided. The proposed facility will include a classroom and a conference room for up to 60 people, able to accommodate cyber-related events and to serve as a space for collaboration, in addition to separate classroom space, workstations for use by academic partners, offices for facility staff, tech support area, kitchen, and storage.
As part of a site-based service arrangement, STCC will provide administrative oversight for the facility, including all HR for employees and hiring of key personnel, plus the establishment of electronic systems management. The facility will also be overseen by a Steering Committee of public, private, and academic stakeholders, which will include the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, the owners of Union Station.
“Bridgewater State University is honored to host the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum, bringing together the leading industry and government leaders around this critical economic and security issue,” said BSU President Frederick Clark Jr., Esq. “BSU looks forward to deepening its collaboration with the MassCyberCenter and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, industry, municipal and non-profit organizations in providing outstanding, hands-on education and training in cybersecurity, meeting the burgeoning demand for cybersecurity professionals and further diversifying the cybersecurity workforce.”
“With the help of EOHED, the MassCyberCenter, and the City of Springfield, this cybersecurity award will be transformative for our region and higher education,” said Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) President John B. Cook. “As one of the most pervasive liabilities for our businesses and communities, these funds ensure a regional center that will be a nexus for the cyber workforce with hands-on learning, in addition to establishing a resource for protecting our community partners against cybersecurity threats.”
The grants are part of the Commonwealth’s ongoing investment in cybersecurity resiliency and workforce development statewide. The award to CyberTrust Massachusetts is from the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Innovation Fund (7002-1503) established in section 4H of chapter 40J of the General Laws and will support the organization’s operating expenditures for a period of six months and will fund a contract for cyber range services for one year.
The grants to BSU and STCC are from the Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021, “An Act Relative to Immediate COVID-19 Recovery Needs” (1599-2039), which provided $15 million to the MassCyberCenter to incentivize the creation of “regional security operations center services” for cyber threat detection and to expand cyber workforce in the state, including a focus on “underserved and underrepresented populations.”
"Today's announcement is a reflection of the partnership between the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature to strengthen our state's cybersecurity workforce pipeline and prepare our Commonwealth to confront the cybersecurity threats of tomorrow," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (D-Westport). "Because of our collective efforts to date, our institutions of public higher education are well positioned to create state of the art facilities like what Bridgewater State University is working on to promote the development of a diverse and skilled cybersecurity workforce necessary to ensure a cyber secure future for our state and our local communities."
“The City of Springfield is encouraged by the leadership of STCC in the establishment of this transformative and dynamic Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (CCE) to be constructed here at the magnificent historic Union Station,” said Mayor Domenic Sarno of the City of Springfield. “The CCE will support the State’s workforce development objectives and mission around cybersecurity while growing and promoting diversity of the talent pipeline for the region! I look forward to the future of the Western MA CCE based here in Springfield!”
The 2022 Forum was sponsored by Dell, OTHERS, and featured panels on the new CyberTrust Massachusetts effort and another on cybersecurity in manufacturing. Additional program support was provided by the Executive Office of Technology Security and Services (EOTSS) and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED).
Since its launch in September 2017, the Cyber Center’s focus has been on enhancing opportunities for the Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem to compete as the national cybersecurity leader and to strengthen the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s public and private communities. Today’s grants are the first investment in infrastructure that addresses that dual mission.
The Center continues to be shaped by the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Strategy Council and working groups focused on cyber resiliency, cybersecurity training and education, and a monthly healthcare-focused series. In addition the annual Cybersecurity Forum, the Center has also managed the successful statewide mentorship program to boost diverse talent, workforce training grants, municipal cyber planning workshops to address municipal incident response planning, and the launch of the ‘Minimum Baseline for Cybersecurity,’ a series of interactive videos aimed at organizations starting their cyber resiliency planning.
October 2022 was officially proclaimed ‘Massachusetts Cybersecurity Month in the Commonwealth,’ which coincides with Cybersecurity Awareness Month nationally. In addition to the Forum, the MassCyberCenter also hosted the second virtual Massachusetts Municipal Cybersecurity Summit and participated in events around the Commonwealth to highlight workforce development, investment, and cyber preparedness.
About the MassCyberCenter
The MassCyberCenter was launched in September 2017 with a vision to enhance opportunities for the Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem to compete as the national cybersecurity leader while strengthening the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s public and private communities. Learn more at masscybercenter.org.