The commonwealth of Massachusetts is funding two new university-based cybersecurity programs to the tune of $2.6 million with the broader aims of developing a more diverse security workforce and boosting cyber resiliency for local governments, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

The new funding plans announced in early November will direct $1.2 million to Bridgewater State University, and $1.46 million to Springfield Technical Community College, to support creation of two facilities that will bolster workforce and security.

Each of the planned new facilities will create security operations centers (SOCs) that will provide threat monitoring and other security services to local governments and small businesses. Both of the facilities also will create cyber ranges, which the state described as “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.”

In addition to the investments for Bridgewater State and Springfield Tech, the state also authorized a $1.08 million grant to support the launch of CyberTrust Massachusetts.  That organization is aiming toward two goals:  1) working with business and academia to increase the cybersecurity talent pipeline by increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups, and 2) promoting the value of SOCs to government, small business, and nonprofits.

“We’re seeking to establish Massachusetts as the national leader when it comes to cybersecurity infrastructure,” commented Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “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,” added Massachusetts Lt. Gov. 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,” she said.

“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,” commented Curt Wood, who heads the state’s Executive Office of Technology Security and Services.

“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,” Wood said.