DHS rolls out $1 billion investment in cybersecurity for state and local governments

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a change of command ceremony at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, June 1, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Friday a $1 billion investment that will help fund its first-ever cyber grant program tailored specifically for state, local and territorial governments across the U.S.

The funds will help these governments address cybersecurity risks, including identifying key vulnerabilities, mitigating threats and strengthening critical infrastructure. 

The $1 billion fund will be allocated over the next four years, with $185 million made available for fiscal 2022. 

“Cyberattacks have emerged as one of the most significant threats to our homeland,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement. 

“In response, we continue to strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity, including by resourcing state and local communities to build and enhance their cyber defenses,” he added. 

Eligible applicants have 60 days to apply for a grant, which can be used to fund new or existing cybersecurity programs, the DHS said.

The $1 billion funding is part of a grant program established by the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which passed last year as part of President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.

Cyberattacks have surged this year as hackers continue to target critical sectors and local communities, including schools.

Just last week, the Los Angeles school district said it was hit with a ransomware attack. The district said its email system and other technological services were disrupted.

Following the attack on the L.A. school district, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a joint advisory warning that cyberattacks against schools may increase as the academic year begins. 

The agencies said that a criminal syndicate known as Vice Society is disproportionately targeting the education sector with ransomware attacks.

“School districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and constrained resources are often the most vulnerable; however, the opportunistic targeting often seen with cyber criminals can still put school districts with robust cybersecurity programs at risk,” the advisory said. 

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Alejandro Mayorkas Biden cyberattacks Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Department of Homeland Security Federal Bureau of Investigation Los Angeles School District State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act Vice Society

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