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State grant supports cybersecurity assistance for local manufacturers

By Eric Reinhardt


ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NY MEP) will use a state grant of more than $300,000 to help several New York manufacturers to assess their cybersecurity defenses.

Empire State Development’s (ESD) Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) is providing the funding, NY MEP said in a Tuesday news release. NY MEP is also part of Empire State Development.

Three centers within the NY MEP network will administer the NYSTAR-supported cybersecurity program.

FuzeHub, the statewide NY MEP center, is working with two regional NY MEP centers to execute the program statewide. Albany–based FuzeHub is a nonprofit that works to assist small to medium-sized manufacturing companies in New York.

The regional NY MEP centers include the Advanced Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) at Mohawk Valley Community College and the Manufacturing & Technology Enterprise Center (MTEC) in Highland in Ulster County.

With cyber-attacks against the manufacturing industry on the rise, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (or NIST) developed a cybersecurity standard to provide guidelines for manufacturing companies to implement protective measures, Elena Garuc, executive director of FuzeHub, said in the release.

“The U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] adopted this standard as a minimum requirement for their contractors — and in New York State alone, there are more than 1,600 manufacturers that are defense contractors,” said Garuc. “Defense contracts can be lucrative for local manufacturing companies, contributing to regional economic growth and job creation … To retain their contracts and preserve jobs, manufacturers need to meet the federal cybersecurity requirements.”

The process

With the NYSTAR grant, AIM and MTEC will conduct cybersecurity assessments for dozens of manufacturers statewide. The assessments will identify gaps between existing protocols and the new DOD cybersecurity requirements. Following their assessment, AIM and MTEC will provide action items to implement, per the NY MEP release.

Once the affected manufacturers have completed those actions, they’ll get a letter of compliance. The document allows them to retain existing defense contracts and jobs and enables them to pursue new contracts that “could help create” additional positions.

FuzeHub will support the initiative with cybersecurity marketing and training services. NY MEP expects the project to take 12 months to complete.

“By ensuring that members of New York State’s manufacturing ecosystem are secure against the threat of cyberattacks, we are helping these companies meet Federal standards while strengthening their own online defenses,” Matt Watson, director of NYSTAR, said.

The NY MEP, a network of 10 regional centers and one statewide center, helps small and mid-sized manufacturers in their pursuit of resources, programs, industry experts and assets “to become more competitive and grow.” The NY MEP in 2017 “delivered an impact” of 5,433 new and retained jobs while generating $929 million in company cost-savings, new client investments and increased/retained sales, per the release.

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