The MassBay Community College Center for Cybersecurity Education was recently awarded $804,162 by the Healey-Driscoll Administration as part of a $1.14 million statewide commitment to increase cyber training. The grants are part of the Commonwealth’s Security Operations Centers (SOC)/Cyber Range Initiative managed by the MassCyberCenter at MassTech, which supports programs that are aimed at building a new, diverse generation of cybersecurity professionals to grow the state’s workforce through education, training, and workforce development. The announcement was made by Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll at the third Massachusetts Municipal Cybersecurity Summit on October 5, 2023, which was organized by MassCyberCenter and served as a kick-off to Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
The grant funding will assist MassBay students studying cybersecurity to train in a state-of-the-art, secure cyber range to gain experience in this high-demand industry. A cyber range is a virtual environment, enabling users to hone their skills detecting, intercepting, and defending against simulated cyber-crimes. The range will bolster cyber resiliency at the local level by including SOCs. An SOC is the infrastructure that enables municipality and small business IT teams to actively monitor cyber threats and IT security vulnerabilities.
The grant program has funded a network of four institutions statewide that are supported by the work of CyberTrust Massachusetts, a non-profit 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. The MassBay cyber range will also be available to program partners including Bunker Hill Community College, Framingham State University, Framingham High School, Keefe Regional Technical School, Roxbury Community College, and Waltham High School.
“MassBay Community College is extremely proud to be the recipient of this grant from MassCyberCenter to fund a cyber range,” said MassBay President David Podell. “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 with a goal of becoming the premier training ground for cybersecurity professionals in MetroWest and Greater Boston.”
The MassBay cyber range features cutting-edge infrastructure, providing students with access to similar facilities found in the private sector, allowing for real-world training opportunities, and enabling students to advance into roles as SOC staff. Students will work with Cybersecurity program faculty, staff, and technical experts using 21st century cyber monitoring software to offer affordable cyber monitoring to municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses that might not be able to purchase ongoing threat detection services.
“Cybersecurity impacts all of us, so it’s important to have an educated workforce that is ready to protect us on multiple layers,” said MassBay computer science professor and director of the MassBay Center for Cybersecurity Education, Shamsi Moussavi. “This commitment to our cyber range and training will have a direct impact on our students and their future career success. This investment will also enable MassBay to establish essential partners in our region to fortify the overall cybersecurity necessary to compete in the modern economy.”
With the ever-increasing cybersecurity threats and risks to organizations’ information and data, the need for trained workers who can identify, prevent, mitigate, and address the threats to IT networks is at an all-time high. MassBay has responded to the growing regional and national need for well-trained cybersecurity professionals by creating a Center for Cybersecurity Education. The Center is built around MassBay’s cybersecurity programs (certificates and associate degree programs), which aligns with the national frameworks and educational guidelines and has been highlighted by The White House. Currently, MassBay is the only associate degree in cybersecurity program in Massachusetts.
“Working on Cybersecurity projects has not only allowed me to test my limits but also to discover and develop my abilities,” said MassBay Cybersecurity and Information Systems and Technology student Dalia Diaz Chongo of Newton, MA. “It has compelled me to push myself further and embrace challenges that I may not have encountered otherwise.”