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Angelo State University selected for cybersecurity pilot program

The Texas Department of Information Resources has partnered with Angelo State University to provide local governments with cybersecurity support.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Last week, the Texas Department of Information Resources announced it is partnering with Angelo State University to operate a pilot Regional Security Operations Center. The center will provide Texas local governments with cybersecurity support.

The idea started in 2019, when a ransomware attacked 23 government entities across Texas. The DIR partnered with federal and state authorities and military departments to get those local governments back on their feet. The plan became to build cyber capabilities in universities across Texas. 

“We’re not just talking about the potential loss of financial data or personal data, we’re talking about for government and for Texans the loss of services, the loss of access to services that Texans rely on their government to provide,” DIR Executive Director and State Chief Information Officer, Amanda Crawford, said. 

Senate Bill 475, passed in the 87th Legislative Session, created the RSOC to provide "boots on the ground" support close to local governments that need assistance with major cybersecurity incidents. The RSOC will also offer network security infrastructure that local governments can utilize. The infrastructure will also give university students hands-on experience to strengthen the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.

The RSOC may also provide real-time network security monitoring; network security alerts; incident response; and cybersecurity educational services. Customers who are eligible for these services include counties, local governments, school districts, water districts, hospital districts and regional state agency offices.

DIR's vision, set out by state leadership during the 87th legislative session, is to partner with other public universities to establish additional RSOCs in Texas to serve local entities and help protect the state from cyber threats.

ASU said its deployment strategy is to leverage existing cybersecurity academic programs in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Security Studies, Department of Computer Science and other departments, as well as existing staff and infrastructure, to grow local expertise, expand ASU facilities and increase infrastructure and resources to expedite the establishment of the RSOC.

“We’re going to be providing the 24/7, 365 day capability for different organizations to be able to have that type of security that they might not have had in the past,” Angelo State University President, Ronnie Hawkins, said.  

Additionally, ASU will provide a continuous pipeline of quality interns to augment the RSOC while the students gain real-world experience in offensive and defensive cyber operations and cyber intel support.

“It will have a big impact on Angelo State because we will be able to utilize our students who are studying in a variety of disciplines not just cybersecurity to help provide the capabilities and the backup and the defensive postures that are needed,” Hawkins said. 

The pilot RSOC is expected to start in a couple of months and last two years. 

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