It's an alarming statistic.

About 85 percent of small to medium-sized businesses that experience a significant cybersecurity breach will go out of business within a year from resulting fines, data loss and other actions, experts in the field say.

To help safeguard against that risk, the UMass Lowell iHub is offering online training to help protect businesses of all sizes.

University officials announced a new cybersecurity training initiative during a roundtable discussion recently in the iHub, located on the third floor of the downtown Harbor Place building.

The new program was developed for people who are interested in expanding their skills and knowledge of cybersecurity, the protection of computer and internet-connected systems from attack by those seeking to damage or steal data. The program is aimed at individuals who are already working in information technology and companies that want to offer training to employees, officials said.

Short online courses are being offered. In addition, a Cybersecurity Awareness Workshop on Jan. 29 at the iHub will be held for people with small and medium-sized businesses who want to learn more about how to protect their companies and other important considerations related to cybersecurity.

The planned workshop is a collaboration between the university; the Haverhill law office of Sheehan, Schiavoni, Jutras and Magliocchetti; and the cybersecurity services company advoqt of Malden.

Along with various UMass officials, local legislators attending the recent event included state Rep. Andy Vargas, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio and new Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who was on a tour of the 3rd District. Her trip also included an economic development tour of Fitchburg, followed by an open house at her congressional office in Lowell.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney kicked off the discussion, saying programs in cybersecurity are important to the nation, the economy and local businesses.

Trahan, who recently visited Haverhill for the unveiling of the immigrant mural downtown, told the group that her first act after being sworn in was to vote to reopen the government, which elicited applause.

"There are more than 7,000 federal employees (in Massachusetts) who are impacted by this shutdown," she said.

Trahan focused on the topic of cybersecurity, saying it is a very real threat and that partnerships such as what UMass Lowell has brought together help inform smaller and middle-sized businesses on how they can take preventative measures to protect themselves and their customers.

"Sixty million Americans have been affected by identity theft and it's something that weighs on us," Trahan said. "This is definitely a bipartisan issue ... to make programs you are starting here more scalable and more contagious, not just across the region, but across the country."

Trahan called Haverhill a city "dedicated to revitalization" and said cybersecurity jobs are an opportunity for colleges to "ramp up and teach and educate our future workforce."

Vargas said that although much of the conversation around cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and economic development is concentrated around Boston and Cambridge, the "real opportunity is here, in our mid-size communities across the country."

"Cybersecurity is job security," he said.

Reinier Moquete, CEO of the advoqt company, said there are 9,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in Massachusetts alone.

"The talent is simply not there," he said.

Moquete said places such as the iHub can be filled with cybersecurity start-ups, with the right legal support, venture capital and educational pipeline to feed a growing need for talent.

"What Cambridge is to biotech,'' he said, "the Merrimack Valley can be to cybersecurity.''

 

 

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