College Receives Grant to Enhance Cybersecurity Measures

PCC Information Technology staff members Sam McCool, Jeremy Morris and Kirk Grice, left to right, secured a federal grant to implement a security information and event management (SIEM) solution that increases protection of the college's information systems infrastructure.

WINTERVILLE—After successfully completing a lengthy application process, Pitt Community College was awarded an $88,540-grant through the federal government’s State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP) to enhance its cyber resilience.

The funding, PCC Associate Chief Information Officer Jeremy Morris says, has allowed Pitt’s Information Technology (IT) Department to implement a security information and event management (SIEM) solution to recognize and address potential security threats to the college’s information systems infrastructure.

“The SIEM solution gives IT a bird’s-eye view of activity across PCC’s entire network, so we can quickly respond to threats before they can disrupt business,” Morris said. “The SIEM we’re implementing correlates, analyzes and presents logs in real-time, allowing our Information Technology personnel to detect and recognize threats or malicious activity on the college’s network and isolate them before throughput escalates.”

SLCGP, which is now in its second year, was established to help state, local and territorial (SLT) governments address increasingly sophisticated cyber threats to critical infrastructure and public safety. The program is jointly managed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which provides cybersecurity expertise and guidance, and Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages the grant award and allocation process.

For its part, CISA developed a series of overarching goals and objectives for SLCGP, based on input the agency received from SLT stakeholders, and consideration of national priorities, frameworks, and the national cyber threat environment. In addition to implementing cyber governance and planning, CISA’s goals include assessing and evaluating systems and capabilities, mitigating prioritized issues and building a cybersecurity workforce.

After allotting $185 million to fund SLCGP in FY 2022, Congress designated $374.9 million for the program this year. It’s part of an overall $1 billion that will be distributed through the program over a four-year period to help SLT governments develop capabilities to detect, protect against, and respond to cyber threats.

The State of North Carolina received approximately $5.3 million through SLCGP in FY 2022 and tasked North Carolina Emergency Management, a division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety, with managing its distribution. Award recipients have used the funding on a wide range of cybersecurity improvements and capabilities, including cybersecurity planning and exercising, hiring cyber personnel, and improving services that citizens rely on daily.

Morris says PCC will apply for additional SLCGP funding throughout the grant’s four-year funding cycle to further strengthen the college’s cybersecurity measures.