IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

MA Offers Free Cybersecurity Training to Schools, Cities

The Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Grant Program this year will train more than 57,000 employees from 210 municipalities and school districts, more than double the number of organizations last year.

(TNS) — At a time when simply opening a suspicious email can lead to the crippling of school, city or town hall computer networks the state is helping to train municipal employees how to detect and avoid cyber threats.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito along with Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curt Wood hosted a ceremony in Haverhill’s City Council chambers to announce the latest round of Municipal Cybersecurity Awareness Grant Program award recipients.

Representatives from more than 20 communities, including Haverhill, Lawrence, Andover, North Andover and Methuen were there to receive awards that were also distributed to other communities across the state.

The 2022 Cybersecurity program is already underway to avoid any delays in securing the computer systems of local governments across the state, officials said.

Polito told a crowd in Haverhill’s City Council Chambers that communities must be smarter, more creative and more prepared for the possibility of cyber attacks on their systems.

“You read about it in the news when you have a ransomware situation and it just kills you that you have to use public dollars to settle one of these scores,” she said. “That’s what we’re trying to prevent from happening and it does start with every single individual in your government and your organization.”

Polito said that as part of the grant program, more than 57,000 employees from 210 municipalities and school districts are receiving cybersecurity and awareness training, which she said is more than double the number of organizations last year.

The program provides municipal employees with two hours of training each week for a year. The training includes an initial cyber assessment to ascertain a baseline of knowledge, hour-long assignments that are released every month, a final cyber assignment to ascertain knowledge gained from the training and sending employees simulated phishing emails in an effort to educate them on how to identify phishing attempts.

Phishing involves the practice of sending fraudulent emails in an attempt to gain sensitive information.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said the number one source of liability and vulnerability is with municipal employees.

“That’s why this grant is so important to us, to continue what we’ve already been doing, our cyber training,” he said.

State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, cautioned that in this time of heightened world conflict, cyber attacks could come from anywhere. He called them “invisible crimes” that many people are ashamed to talk about.

“That’s why these grants are so important as the more people we have in our municipalities who are arming themselves against the tools they need to knock this stuff back the better off we’re going to be,” Finegold said. “As a Commonwealth in 2020, we lost over $100 million dollars in cyber thefts. If that was bank robberies we’d have police on every corner.”

State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, said the legislature will continue providing the resources needed to combat cyber threats, particularly at the community level where she said resources are limited.

“We’re spending money on training, which is a very wise and smart thing to do,” she said.

For more information, visit

©2022 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.