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Cyber Secured

BSU praised for cybersecurity programs

The United States has long relied on oceans and friendly neighboring countries as buffers against security threats. Yet, in an increasingly digitized world, cybercrime transcends geographic boundaries, putting municipalities, states and businesses on the front lines.

This new frontier demands an experienced workforce developed through collaborative, hands-on educational opportunities like those coming to Bridgewater State University, cybersecurity experts said at a recent forum hosted on campus by the MassCyberCenter.

Even a representative from the White House left the event impressed.

“It’s just terrific,” said Nick Leiserson, an assistant national cyber director. “It’s the kind of thinking we need in this new domain.”

At the event, MassCyberCenter and the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $1.2 million grant that will help BSU advance a three-pronged approach to meeting regional and statewide cybersecurity needs. The grant is partly for a Security Operations Center (SOC) that will be built at BSU and will help municipalities, nonprofits, companies, and government agencies monitor, detect and respond to threats.

“Our students are going to actually work in the SOC,” said Steve Zuromski, ’04, G’09, BSU’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “They are going to get that hands-on, practical experience and be able to walk out the door and get a job.”

BSU, state and federal cybersecurity experts gather under a sign announcing BSU's new cyber range

BSU is also developing new graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity programs, including a bachelor of science degree set to begin accepting students for fall 2023. It is building a sophisticated cyber range that will enable students and professionals to experience simulated ransomware, malware, and other attacks.

“For us, it’s a winning formula,” said BSU President Frederick W. Clark, Jr., ’83. “We know that our role is critical as it relates to workforce development.”

There are approximately 20,000 open, well-paying cybersecurity positions in Massachusetts.

And cybersecurity workers are needed at the federal, state and local level and in the private sector, said Stephanie Helm, director of MassCyberCenter.

"Cybersecurity is needed more than ever because it is a national security issue,” Helm said, adding BSU stands out for its commitment to serving southeastern Massachusetts.

Building a diverse cybersecurity workforce is also important, and BSU is well positioned to help because 50 percent of its students are the first in their families to attend college, Leiserson said.

“We need good talent,” said Curtis Wood, Massachusetts’ chief information officer. “We need people invested in public service. … Experience is the biggest thing you can have.”

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