Enhancing Municipal Cyber Resilience While Bridging Education and Real-World Experience

BOSTON, Apr. 10, 2024 — The nonprofit CyberTrust Massachusetts today announced the launch of critical new cyber assessment and monitoring services, giving Massachusetts cities and towns access to new capabilities to help reverse the trend of escalating cyber attacks, ransomware, infrastructure disruption and data breaches. The launch begins with a program sponsored by Plymouth County for all of its municipalities, in a new security operations center on the campus of Bridgewater State University.

CyberTrust was formed in 2022 in a first-of-its-kind initiative—bringing together a consortium of college and industry partners from across the state to grow and diversify the cyber workforce and to strengthen the security of under-resourced entities, beginning with cities and towns. These missions intersect with the formation of a statewide Security Operations Center (SOC), which has launched in an interim facility on the campus of Bridgewater State, to be followed by a permanent facility later this year, along with another at Springfield Union Station, led by Springfield Technical Community College and other area schools.

“Massachusetts has taken a unique approach to solving the related challenges of cyber workforce development and local government cybersecurity through a collaboration of business, higher education and government,” stated Peter Sherlock, CEO of CyberTrust Massachusetts. “For local communities, this means access to leading cyber solutions, with trusted advice and support, at an affordable price.”

“CyberTrust Massachusetts, the communities we serve and colleges who are members appreciate the role of the Massachusetts State Legislature and the Healey/Driscoll Administration through its Mass Tech Collaborative for providing funding support and programmatic guidance to allow us to train a ready workforce and protect those who are underserved,” said Jay Ash, Chair of CyberTrust Massachusetts. “Without their support, Massachusetts would not be the leader it is in cybersecurity.”

The CyberTrust operation, akin to a teaching hospital for cybersecurity, will be led by a core of deeply experienced industry professionals. It will utilize leading cyber defense technology and services, and employ students from Bridgewater State and other partner colleges. Student interns in the SOC will build on their cyber education to participate in assessment and testing work for municipal and K-12 customers, analyze telemetry and alerts from customer systems, and respond to incidents. Students will emerge from this experience with the hands-on, real-world experience that cyber employers need.

“Our involvement with CyberTrust Massachusetts exemplifies BSU’s commitment to applied learning and community engagement,” said Fred Clark, President of Bridgewater State University. “By integrating students directly into real-world cybersecurity operations in a real SOC environment, we’re not only enhancing their educational experience but also contributing significantly to the security and well-being of our local communities.”

Cyber assessments conducted at the SOC will offer municipal customers a comprehensive look at their cyber posture, and flag risks that deserve attention. Based on standards developed by the Center for Internet Security, the assessments will include interviews with key stakeholders, data collection, and targeted technical tests to evaluate defenses of email systems, local networks and computers, and access controls. CyberTrust has partnered with cybersecurity firm OnDefend to automate the process and enable our student teams to deliver results in a predictable and safe way.

Monitoring services will be based on a Managed Endpoint Detection and Response solution from industry leader SentinelOne. It will monitor computers and servers across municipal customer environments, detecting suspicious and malicious activity and stopping it before it can spread. Supported by the students and professionals in the SOC during business hours, the entire operation is monitored by SentinelOne’s Vigilance SOC 24/7 for round the clock response.

The service launch has begun with a planned project sponsored by Plymouth County, being made available to all of Its cities, towns and school districts. “Plymouth County’s partnership with CyberTrust Massachusetts and Bridgewater State is a game-changer in our fight against complex cyber threats,” said Thomas O’Brien, County Treasurer. “This alliance not only fortifies our municipal systems, it blends the delivery of advanced cyber services with educational advancement, and it helps us achieve an enhanced cyber posture in a cost-effective manner that is within reach for our municipalities and agencies.”

CyberTrust was formed through a statewide collaboration led by the state agency, the MassCyberCenter at MassTech, which has also provided the organization with enabling grants. John Petrozzelli, the Director of the MassCyberCenter, remarked: “These SOC services will provide municipalities with a baseline of protection that will help them mitigate threats in a rapidly evolving global landscape. Furthermore, this program will enable students to gain on-the-job training skills they need to attain high paying jobs as soon as they graduate community colleges, certain certification programs, or four-year institutions. This launch helps us to realize our vision for a diverse, vibrant, and competitive Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem that enhances resiliency for public and private entities, provides workforce development opportunities, and elevates public cybersecurity awareness.”

CyberTrust Massachusetts represents an innovative response to escalating cyber threats and the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals. This collaborative effort aims to strengthen Massachusetts’ digital defenses and cultivate a skilled workforce through practical, real-world experience.


About CyberTrust Massachusetts

CyberTrust Massachusetts is a new non-profit committed to growing and diversifying the cyber workforce, creating opportunities, and securing local entities. Leveraging state and federal startup funding, CyberTrust enhances cyber education programs with hands-on experiential learning—using a state-of-the-art Cyber Range and placing students in a live SOC that also serves local governments, nonprofits, and small businesses. To collaborate on this ambitious agenda, CyberTrust is forming a consortium of committed companies and colleges—anchored in community colleges and state universities, where programs can best reach underrepresented groups. More information is available at www.cybertrustmass.org and info@cybertrustmass.org.

Contact:  press@cybertrustmass.org