Tech-based grant provides cybersecurity resources to rural communities

Posted at 1:52 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 12:53:27-05

Boise State's cybersecurity program will be rolling out new resources for Idaho's rural areas, thanks to an economic development grant from the Idaho National Lab (INL).

Experts say cyber attacks are becoming more and more common, and rural areas can be particularly vulnerable.

"Part of the challenge they have is they have this data and this infrastructure but being able to engage and work with cyber experts or a career professional can often be really difficult and economically challenging," explained Edward Vasko, Director for the Institute of Pervasive Cybersecurity at Boise State University.

The grant is working to change that by utilizing resources close to home. The Idaho National Lab is surrounded by rural communities.

"INL has a tremendous program in the area of cybersecurity research," explained Marsha McDaniels, Senior Advisor and Lead for INL's economic development program. "When this project from Boise State came along, we knew this was a perfect opportunity to share some of the benefits of our research with the communities."

Through the grant, Boise State students will be paired with an experienced mentor, and will go out to rural communities. The idea is to give them real-world experience in environments they may be working in as cybersecurity professionals.

"We're able to engage students and give them real-world competency and development, we're able to engage with our rural communities and provide them something of value," Vasko explained. "In doing so, give back to rural communities the opportunity for an independent set of eyes to come and look, experience the environment, provide some guidance and feedback that's pragmatic."

Boise State has already started work advising rural communities like the City of Arco. The university plans to reapply for the grant next year.