The state on Thursday announced $250,000 in grants to cities, towns and school systems, including Seekonk, for employee cyber-security training.
The funding would go toward training Seekonk’s 400 town and school employees. The amount the town will get was not specified.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curt Wood joined legislative, municipal and school officials in Worcester to announce the grants. They’re going to 94 municipalities and public school districts for training of over 42,000 employees to better detect and avoid cyber threats.
Employees in communities participating in the program will receive interactive online training in topics ranging from email security to USB device safety. Employees will also receive simulated phishing emails. Phishing is a growing threat in local government in which an attacker seeks to influence the employee to take an action that may be harmful to the organization, by masquerading as a trusted entity.
"Cyber attacks are becoming a serious threat to municipalities both here in Massachusetts and across the country," said state Rep. Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk. "I commend the Baker-Polito Administration for partnering with the Town of Seekonk and Seekonk Public Schools to better our workforce's ability to protect sensitive data from potential threats."
“Cybersecurity is a critical issue for Massachusetts communities and schools who face cybersecurity threats but sometimes lack the resources to prepare for and combat them,” Polito said. “These first-ever cybersecurity grant funds are a crucial tool to complement the over $9 million in funding for municipal IT infrastructure projects through the Community Compact program in providing Massachusetts communities and schools the resources and tools they need to combat cyber threats.”
The grant funding was included in this year’s state budget and matched by the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, which began cybersecurity awareness training for state employees in 2018.
The grant announcement marked the end of October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
In April, Gov. Charlie Baker filed a $1.1 billion bond bill that includes $600 million in information technology infrastructure funding. A total of $140 million of the funds are dedicated to further enhance the cybersecurity of the state’s digital assets, including a new Security Operations Center.