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State, UWT receive grant to build up cybersecurity programs

The state has received a $412,000 grant to boost the cybersecurity program at the University of Washington Tacoma and build a network that aims to spot cybersecurity threats to public agencies.

The grant from the National Institute for Standards and Technology is intended to benefit the UWT’s new cybersecurity and leadership program, as well as to develop the next stage of a statewide cybersecurity monitoring effort called the Public Regional Information Security Event Management (PRISEM) System.

UWT plans to use its share of the money to build a pipeline for recent veterans who want a master’s degree or another credential in cybersecurity. It’s a growing field that can cater to military service members with national security clearances or training in protecting information networks.

“We know that we are going to have an inundation of people leaving the military in the next few years. The real challenge is how to get these people integrated in the right career pathways,” said Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington.

Some of the money also will go to the state to build up the PRISEM program. It has been funded for the past six years through grants. It is shifting to a model in which cities, counties, 911 call centers, ports and utilities would pay a fee to use it, said Michael Hamilton, a cybersecurity policy adviser to the state’s chief of information.

UWT cybersecurity students would be able to have internships at the PRISEM center to gain real-world experience.

“Our region is under incessant attacks,” Endicott-Popovsky said. “You need live-fire experience” to learn how to counter cyber attacks.

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