Though it may seem out of character for a sea town, Cohasset will soon be equipped to rid its town of phishing.
In December 2019, the Baker-Polito Administration launched the Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness grant program. The program offers training to municipal and public school employees to help them better detect and avoid cyber threats.
Last week, the state announced the second round of award recipients, and Cohasset found itself among four South Shore towns to receive the grant.
Along with Duxbury, Norwell, and Scituate, Cohasset will be able to train its employees as part of a program administered by the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) and ProofPoint, the state’s cybersecurity vendor.
“As cyber threats continue to become more complex, this type of training for those in local government and in our public schools is critical to protecting sensitive and valuable data,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor, R-Weymouth. “I appreciate the investment the Baker-Polito Administration has made in this area, at all levels of government, and look forward to continuing to expand these types of opportunities moving forward.”
Identified by the National Governors Association (NGA) as “the single most effective factor in preventing security breaches and data losses,” this critical cybersecurity awareness training will provide online end-user training and cyber threat simulations to further educate municipal and public school employees participating in the program. The grant program is managed by the EOTSS and is funded with $250,000 of capital IT authorizations from Governor Baker’s General Governmental Bond Bill, which the Legislature passed into law in 2020 to invest in commonwealth cybersecurity and IT infrastructure modernization initiatives.
The online training materials provided to municipal and public school employees includes a variety of cybersecurity attack simulations that reflect malicious luring techniques commonly used by cyber criminals to gain access to IT systems and data:
- Email phishing attacks
- Smishing’ SMS attacks
- USB drop attacks
- Link-based, attachment-based, and data-entry attacks
“In addition to providing training to the commonwealth’s state workforce, we are thrilled to extend this vital training to our partners in local government,” said Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curt Wood. “Building a culture of cyber awareness, local governments can grow their security teams to be the responsibility of all employees.”
Cohasset will have a total of 550 town and school employees trained thanks to the grant.
“It’s really great,” said Town Manager Chris Senior. “The state has gotten more and more robust with these types of programs, which is awesome.”
This is not the first time Cohasset has been awarded a cybersecurity-related grant, and Senior is confident the town’s employees will be well-versed heading into the new training.
“We had won a grant about five years for cybersecurity and rolled out stuff then, including some internal testing for phishing,” Senior said. “It definitely enhanced everyone’s knowledge.”
Ron Menard, the head of Cohasset’s IT department and chief information officer, will lead the rollout of the training, which is set to begin later this month.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Senior said. “We’ve put a fair amount into cybersecurity measures in the past few years, including upgrading out Outlook system."