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Inaugural Mass. Municipal Cybersecurity Summit Featured Launch of New Training Modules for City & Town Leaders
Virtual Summit Convened Over 400 Government Leaders from Across Massachusetts
BOSTON – At the first-ever Massachusetts Municipal Cybersecurity Summit, the MassCyberCenter at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative launched a suite of interactive, online modules designed to educate and train municipal officials on best practices around cybersecurity and how to create a ‘minimum baseline of cybersecurity’ to protect their digital assets and critical information.
The inaugural Municipal Cybersecurity Summit was hosted on a dynamic virtual event platform that provided approximately 300 attendees the opportunity to hear from speakers and to network with other municipal leaders. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito kicked off the Summit by highlighting the commitment of the Baker-Polito Administration toward municipal cybersecurity and stating: “preserving the safety and security of our communities means creating cyber-resilient cities and towns – that is one of our top priorities.”
The new modules are available on the MassCyberCenter’s website and designed to improve the cybersecurity posture of Massachusetts municipalities by encouraging collaboration and engagement with other cities and towns to strengthen cybersecurity resiliency. The ‘minimum baseline’ featured in the modules can be reached fairly inexpensively, but requires an investment of time from municipal employees. The virtual modules are structured around four key goals:
- Trained and Cyber-Secure Employees;
- Improved Threat Sharing;
- Cyber Incident Response Planning; and
- Secure Technology Environment and Best Practices.
The interactive modules include universal scenarios and learning sessions that feature the fictional town of ‘Massboro’, which is hit by a malicious cyberattack due to deficiencies in the town’s cyber preparedness. The narrative provides a hypothetical case study of how a cyberattack could unfold and the impact it could have on municipal services that are increasingly being moved online.
“The launch of these online training modules builds on the work of the MassCyberCenter and our partners statewide, including the Cyber Resilient Massachusetts Working Group, to engage with municipalities directly about their cyber preparedness and to highlight the resources, grants, and technical experts that can help them bolster their defenses,” said Stephanie Helm, director of the MassCyberCenter at MassTech. “The statewide Summit highlights the partnership with federal and state agencies, as well as organizations like the Mass. Municipal Association and our regional Homeland Security councils, who are actively engaged with local municipal leaders.”
“In today’s world, cyber security is absolutely critical to protecting our communities and ensuring the business of municipal government can continue, and with this compilation of resources established by the MassCyberCenter, cities and towns have access to an invaluable set of tools to help bolster their online defenses against malicious attacks,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “I want to thank the MassCyberCenter for making these resources available and for their continued efforts to work in collaboration with all 351 cities and towns to help raise our collective defenses, improve online resilience, and keep local governments up and running.”
The inaugural Mass. Municipal Cybersecurity Summit was funded through a Department of Homeland Security State-Share Grant announced in October 2020. The Summit was launched to assist the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities and focuses on engagement with local officials, first responders, utility providers, and IT personnel to help improve cybersecurity programs in their city or town. The Summit featured remarks from leading cybersecurity experts from state and federal organizations and the private sector to give municipalities a better understanding of current cybersecurity issues and practical ideas for improving cybersecurity. There were sessions dedicated to the recent Ransomware Task Force Report, released this spring, which provided recommendations on preparation and planning.
In addition to the Lt. Governor, the Summit featured keynotes from state officials, including Secretary Mike Kennealy of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Secretary Curt Wood of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, Undersecretary Jeanne Benincasa Thorpe of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, as well as federal leaders such as the Deputy Director of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, Nitin Natajaran.
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 www.masscybercenter.org.
Brian Noyes, MassTech, (508) 870-0312 X:293, noyes (at) masstech.org