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Cybersecurity Projects

WRHSAC has focused on providing the region with information, tools and trainings to assist municipalities in developing a more cyber-secure environment of their IT/online landscapes. Below are a summary of WRHSAC initiatives.

Cybersecurity Preparedness Conference 2018

In December of 2018, WRHSAC hosted the Cybersecurity Preparedness Conference to provide information to assist municipalities in beginning to understand and navigate the development of a more cyber-secure environment in their daily government operations. The conference sought to provide information on where to begin in what can often seem to be an overwhelming and daunting task. The conference was well received not only by municipalities in the WRHSAC region, but across the Commonwealth. WRHSAC partnered with the Massachusetts State Fusion Center and members from other agencies including EOTSS and MEMA. The conference also helped to establish a strong relational link between WRHSAC and the then newly formed MassCyberCenter (MCC). This relationship continues with a WRHSAC representative as an active member of the MCC Massachusetts Cyber Resilient Working Group.

Regionalized Cybersecurity Study for Franklin County

WRHSAC provided funds to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) to conduct a comprehensive cybersecurity/IT needs assessment of ten participating towns in Franklin County and to asses the feasibility of a regional approach to municipal IT/Cybersecurity.

The project, conducted by Connecticut IT firm Novus Insight in late winter/spring 2020, assessed the ten towns’ maturity levels in 9 key areas: municipal record retention compliance, backup & recovery, incident response, policies & procedures, password & credential management, encryption, system management & support, training, and infrastructure. The study recommends a 2-phase approach to designing a regional services system. Phase 1 consists of Capacity Building. Phase 2 will address technology resources, support, and consultation.

Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Training

WRHSAC partnered with the Central, Northeast and Southeast Homeland Security Councils to develop a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Series for Municipal Officials. The series utilized the CISA Cyber Essentials Toolkit to build six online training modules to building municipal officials awareness of the need for cybersecurity and how to begin implementation in their towns. The training modules can be freely accessed on WRHSAC’s online learning management system here.

FRCOG Capacity Building Workshops 

WRHSAC awarded funds to the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) to conduct the series of Cybersecurity/IT Capacity Building Workshops as recommended by the study noted above. The workshops were offered to educate and inform town management of what’s involved with running their IT programs, so they can make more informed technology decisions, ask the right questions of their Managed Services Provider or technology personnel, and plan well. They also sought to help cultivate a culture of more technology and cyber-safety awareness at all levels of the municipality. The workshops were held virtually and were recorded. The workshops recordings are available and can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Regional Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Feasibility Study

In this project, WRHSAC and the Homeland Security Advisory Councils of Central, Northeast and Southeast Massachusetts hired a consultant to explore whether a regionalized approach to municipal cybersecurity, specifically through the development of a Regional Chief Information Security Officer and team was a practical approach to address the gaps and obstacles experienced by many municipalities in establishing a robust information technology platform and cyber-secure environment. Through interviews and research the consultant gained a broad understanding of the current cybersecurity picture in the Commonwealth. Various recommendations were made. The Councils and other entities are utilizing the information in the report to continue to develop and distribute resources to assist municipalities with cybersecurity.