RI Nets $4.5 Million to Strengthen Cybersecurity & Thwart Cyberattacks
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help state and local government agencies enhance their cybersecurity capabilities and beef up cybersecurity, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced $4.46 million in new federal funding to help Rhode Island defend against evolving cyber threats.
This new pot of federal funds is being made available to Rhode Island, as well as other states, on the heels of a string of ransomware cyberattacks against a number of local governments nationwide, where hackers have disrupted computer networks at schools, hospitals, and municipalities and demanded ransom payments to unlock a company, organization, or government agency’s data. Not all ransom payments are made public, but according to an estimate provided at a recent White House cyber summit, victims pay an average of $258,000.
Cyberattacks can expose personal information – Social Security numbers, medical records, or other sensitive information -- and could put individuals at risk for identity theft or in other cases prevent a business or organization from effectively operating. Recent examples of highly publicized cyber attacks in New England include hacks against North Kingstown and a ransomware attack against Prospect Medical Holdings, which disrupted healthcare computer systems across multiple states.
To better address vulnerabilities within state and local cybersecurity infrastructure, Reed and Whitehouse helped make $374.9 million in federal grant funding available for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP) as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58). Under the law’s formula, Rhode Island and its cities and towns are eligible for $4,467,229 of this funding.
“This federal funding will help the state, cities and towns coordinate and strengthen their cyber defenses to meet their most pressing cyber challenges,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Technology helps the government provide more efficient and effective services to the people, but we need to have strong cyber defenses and a well-trained cybersecurity workforce. As cyber threats evolve, this federal funding ensures Rhode state and local agencies are better prepared. It will help them plan and execute strategies to safeguard key digital infrastructure.”
“Cyberattacks can undermine national security and democratic processes, and can have major impacts on the economy and health care systems,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I am pleased to help secure federal funding that helps municipalities strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure and guard against constantly evolving cyber threats.”
Now in its second year, the SLCGP is a first-of-its-kind cybersecurity grant program for state, local, and territorial governments across the nation to strengthen cyber resilience. Administered by
SLCGP is jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). CISA provides expertise and guidance on cybersecurity issues while FEMA manages the grant award and allocation process.
Eligible grant expenses include costs associated with cybersecurity improvements and capabilities, including cybersecurity planning and exercising, hiring cyber personnel, and improving the services that citizens rely on daily.
State and local governments have until October 6 to apply for this grant opportunity and Reed and Whitehouse encourage applicants to submit their materials at least one week before the deadline.
For more information on the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program, visit CISA’s webpage: cisa.gov/cybergrants.