Tech SA: UTSA, other universities could benefit from cybersecurity bill

Senate has approved the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act

A bill would allow DHS to work with five universities to train state and local governments on cybersecurity.

San Antonio – The U.S. Senate advanced the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, which would allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to work with universities to train state and local governments on preventing cybersecurity attacks.

For several years, the University of Texas at San Antonio — along with four other universities — has been providing technical assistance and cybersecurity training to professionals and government agencies through the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium program.

“The five universities coming together was a lot more holistic in solving the cybersecurity problem. And to provide training and coursework in cybersecurity, that would really help the nation,” said Natalie Sjelin, training director at the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security. "So bringing us all together under one umbrella called the NCPC allowed us to bring all of our core competencies together, which really gives you a much better, broader scope of cybersecurity instead of the siloed pieces that most folks have in terms of capability.”

Under this bill, DHS would be authorized to work with the NCPC to do the following:

  • Provide training to state and local first responders and officials, develop curriculums and provide technical assistance.
  • Conduct cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises for state and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators and private industries.
  • Help states and communities develop cybersecurity information-sharing programs.
  • Help incorporate cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing state and local emergency plans and continuity of operations plans.

UTSA’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security is a partner in this program.

The team has provided online and in-person training to organizations.

“We go out into the community. We have folks actually sitting in classes, and it could be a class that is to provide more awareness, to give them a better understanding of the threats that they face in terms of cybersecurity,” Sjelin said.

Cyber threats are evolving and can happen anywhere. Earlier this year, a cyberattack impacted several cities around the state. Last year, Shavano Park’s software-hardware was attacked.

UTSA said the national program has trained over 76,000 people over the last several years.

The bill still needs to pass in the House.

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