Money from cyberattack settlement set to help expand cybersecurity workforce in Colorado

Money from cyberattack settlement set to help expand cybersecurity workforce

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is awarding $500,000 to help grow a cybersecurity program at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

The funding comes from a multi-state settlement with Equifax, over a nationwide data breach in 2017.

With millions of dollars lost to cybercrime every year, defending against those attacks is now more critical than ever.

RELATED: Equifax To Pay More Than $3M To Colorado Residents After Data Breach

"It's hard not to see the value investing in cybersecurity when it's so meshed in our day-to-day lives whether it's your social media your email how you connect to work remotely," MSU Denver student Monica Ball said.

Ball found a passion for the work as a student in the university's cybersecurity center.

"Figuring out how it all works and fits together is really intriguing to me," she added.

MSU Denver computer science student Monica Ball CBS

Inside the cybersecurity center, they also run Project Pisces, a nonprofit organization that provides free cybersecurity and monitoring to small public organizations across the state.

Many of them likely couldn't afford that level of protection otherwise.

"We serve six school districts and four counties. "If you total up that's about 430,000 Colorado residents and we provide coverage of those residents and the infrastructure they rely on," said Richard Mac Namee, director of the program.

RELATED: Colorado county changes website to enhance cybersecurity in wake of two hacks on state sites

With the changes in tech happening every day, he says we need to start growing the workforce now.

"We have got to try and make sure we stay on top of that technology as efficiently as we can," Mac Namee added.

Richard Mac Namee, director of the Cybersecurity Center at MSU Denver CBS

Colorado's attorney general sees that same urgency, awarding the program $500,000 to grow support, bringing in more students and staff, while at the same time, protecting Coloradans.

"The more students we can bring on to the right standard, the more impact that can have across the entire state and for the benefit of the state of Colorado," Mac Namee said. "Without that funding, we would not be able to do that."

Students like Ball will be among the first to help bring that level of protection to Colorado.

"That's what makes it worthwhile," she said.

The grant money will be awarded over two years with an opportunity for more in a third year, depending on the success of the program. 

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