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Massachusetts Invests Millions in Cybersecurity

Massachusetts has announced a $5 million grant for cybersecurity that will be used to bolster cyber-research and the computing technology used by the University of Massachusetts.

The internet, which is increasingly home to business, health and personal connections, is also rife with bad actors and state sponsored hackers, state officials noted.

“Cybersecurity has no boundaries. It is a global issue and a global fight in some respects,” Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking as the grant was announced at the UMass Center in Springfield, Mass. He said, “The more information that becomes digitized, the more opportunity for mischief and chaos and disaster associated with cyberterrorism.”

Senate President Stan Rosenberg then took the stage to describe what he learned from a cybersecurity official at the Federal Reserve Bank in February: “He scared the bejesus out of us, because he described the vulnerability in our society in all aspects, including our banking, in our finances—in all of those things that we have come to rely upon,” Rosenberg said. He said the official told the crowd, “Everybody who’s focused on cybersecurity is looking at Massachusetts.”

The four-year Massachusetts Technology Collaborative grant is designed to create the UMass Amherst Data Science/Cybersecurity Research and Education Collaborative, and computer nodes will be distributed at UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, the UMass Center in Springfield and UMass Boston, according to the Baker administration.

The $5 million capital grant follows a $15 million, 10-year grant for operations that MassMutual gave UMass Amherst. Both awards are intended to fund big-data research in addition to cybersecurity. Major computer equipment would be housed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke.

Roger Crandall, the chairman and CEO of Springfield-based insurer MassMutual, offered a personal example of why such investments are necessary: “Literally just the time we’ve been standing here there have probably been hundreds of thousands of attempted breaches of the MassMutual network,” Crandall said about 40 minutes into the speaking program announcing the grant. “And if you don’t keep the network safe and safeguard data, everything that we’re doing then falls apart. That’s table stakes. You have to do it.”

Photo © Mark Yarchoan

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