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Colorado attorney general grants MSU Denver nearly $500k for cybersecurity purposes

The Colorado Department of Law awarded $492,059 to MSU Denver to train students for a career in the cybersecurity field
In this Oct. 7, 2019, file photo, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser speaks during a news conference in Denver. A group of 35 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Thursday alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)


Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that the Colorado Department of Law has awarded $492,059 to Metropolitan State University of Denver to train students for a career in the cybersecurity field and to provide local communities with cybersecurity support.

“Our state’s needs for cybersecurity expertise is growing rapidly. Many small communities don’t have the workforce or budget to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats,” said Weiser. “With the rising importance of cybersecurity preparedness to business, a large federal and military presence in the state, and our continually growing metro and rural populations, the need for cybersecurity-related expertise in Colorado has never been higher.”

MSU Denver’s cybersecurity program serves as the lead institution for Project PISCES, a non-profit organization that works with colleges, universities, and local governments to provide no-cost cybersecurity monitoring and protection of the data networks of small, public-sector entities, such as counties, school districts, and fire districts.

Intended to promote workforce development and job creation in Colorado’s growing cybersecurity industry, the grant will go toward training 85 total analysts in the first year with the goal of reaching an additional 100 analysts by June 30, 2024. The grant will be issued over a two-year period, with the option to extend for one additional year following an evaluation of the program’s performance. MSU Denver will work with other partners in the state, such as the National Cybersecurity Center, to onboard, train, and oversee PISCES in Colorado.

“Smaller organizations desperately want help right now to protect their systems, while students training to be cyberanalysts absolutely need experience working with real data,” said Richard Mac Namee, director of the Cybersecurity Center at MSU Denver. “That’s why this funding is so important. It will help us expand our program to protect more of these organizations from growing threats, while preparing new cyber warriors for the workforce.”

The money for the MSU Denver grant comes from the $3.6 million Colorado received from a 2019 multistate settlement with Equifax, Inc. over a nationwide data breach that occurred in 2017. In January of 2020, the Department of Law awarded $500,000 from the settlement to Colorado Northwestern Community College to start a cybersecurity degree program. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has also launched a cybersecurity and data privacy initiative that is supported by these settlement funds.

To learn more about the growing cyberthreat landscape and the potential of PISCES to address it, please read more in the RED article: “Cyber students help protect civic institutions vulnerable to hackers.”