The best defense is a good offense. As the years go on, the federal government is taking that to heart when it comes to cybersecurity - and equipping state and local governments with the funding and resources they need to armor up.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just unveiled an impressive $374.9 million in grant funding for 2023 under the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP). This comes in addition to the $400 million allotted for fiscal year 2023 for the SLCGP.
The primary purpose? To boost cyber resilience among state, local, and territorial (SLT) governments, which have become increasingly targeted by advanced cyber threats to essential infrastructure and public safety.
Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know.
Initiated by the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act and supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the SLCGP aims to aid SLT governments as they fortify their systems against cyber threats. In simple terms, it's about addressing the cyber poverty line by offering financial support to these governments, helping them better detect, fend off, and address cyber threats. Notably, this year’s funding (FY23) has doubled from the previous year (FY22), showing just how serious the Administration and Congress are about investing in cybersecurity defense and offense.
While DHS announced the initiative, two agencies are at the helm of this grant program: the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). CISA offers its know-how on cybersecurity matters, and FEMA takes the lead on awarding and divvying up the grants. If your community receives a grant, it can use the funds for various cybersecurity enhancements — from planning and hiring cybersecurity professionals to bettering essential public services.
SLTT entities have a significant opportunity with the SLCGP funds. Think of it as an investment into your cybersecurity infrastructure. You can use this funding to enhance your cybersecurity plans, invest in the latest cybersecurity tools, train staff, conduct detailed cybersecurity assessments, and be ready to respond to cyber threats.
However, there are criteria to meet. To access the funds, entities must manage essential information systems and have a solid cybersecurity strategy in place. There are also specific guidelines to follow: states are expected to allocate 80% of their funds to local governments. Good news for rural areas, they're assured at least 25% of the total funds. Meanwhile, state agencies can use up to 20% of the funds for program administration. Additionally, each project must get approval from an entity's committee, ensuring the right allocation and use of funds.
In essence, the SLCGP isn't just about financial support; it's a roadmap for SLTT governments to bolster their cybersecurity.
If you're part of a state or local government and this opportunity sounds right up your alley, there's a deadline to keep in mind: October 6. Want to dive deeper into what the grant program entails? Head over to CISA’s dedicated page: cisa.gov/cybergrants.
In essence, the message is clear: In today's digital age, cyber threats are omnipresent, and the government is stepping up to help every community bolster its defenses. If you're in the cybersecurity sector working for a local or state government, this is an opportunity you might not want to miss.
In today's complex security environment, with myriad apps, innumerable endpoints, and a variety of security vendors, the primary focus should be clear: The data. Your data holds the key, whether it's your constituents' private details, critical health and human services data, vital financial records, or criminal justice information under the purview of CJIS. All these categories, among others, form the foundation of your Cybersecurity Plan, especially as you aim for the new deadline of October 6th.
Encryption is paramount when securing data, both in transit and at rest, which are essential components of a solid Cybersecurity Plan. This is where Virtru shines. Our encryption solutions integrate effortlessly with widely-used platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. Plus, our Secure Share encrypted file transfer platform offers a simplified yet secure method for government form submissions.
Recognizing that organizations utilize diverse tech stacks, we emphasize compatibility across both Google and Microsoft platforms. We ensure effortless, secure data sharing both internally and externally, and our data protection gateway remains platform-neutral.
Virtru offers a cost-effective and straightforward deployment solution, helping you meet the pivotal cybersecurity criteria of the SLCGP. This enables swift demonstration of compliance and performance in line with your Cybersecurity Plan. Our track record speaks for itself, having aided numerous state and local governments in data protection endeavors, from leaders in state security like the State of Arizona and the State of Maryland to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and school systems such as Iron County Schools in Utah and Newfield Schools in New York.
Looking to optimize the DHS funding and secure your constituents' data? Contact the Virtru team today. Together, we can prioritize the protection of your most valuable asset: your data.
Shelby is a content writer with specialty in SEO, social media, and digital campaign creation. She has produced and strategized content for major players in healthcare, home services, broadcast media, and now data security.View more posts by Shelby Imes
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