Thomas College and Maine Emergency Management Agency Announce Partnership to Help Protect Maine Citizens from Cyber and Homeland Security Threats

Posted Jan. 10, 2017, at 9:57 a.m.

WATERVILLE, January 2017 — Growing cyber security threats pose a serious risk for Maine cities, towns and citizens. In order to keep them safe, Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Thomas College have recently partnered up to provide a solution to these problems: training and education.

Thomas College and MEMA will work together to address state security through collaboration on resources, training opportunities and exercises through a recently signed memorandum of understanding.

“This partnership benefits students in their future careers, Thomas College, MEMA and the cities and towns they serve, the community, and overall the state of Maine,” said Thomas College Professor of Information Technology Management, Dr. Frank Appunn. “Thomas College is excited to partner with MEMA on this very important mission to keep our community safe from cyber and homeland security threats.”

“MEMA welcomes the opportunity to work with Thomas College to address cyber threats in Maine,” said MEMA’s Cyber Security Coordinator Cameron Wellman. “The level of expertise that both the faculty and students have to offer will be a tremendous benefit as we continue to develop resources and training opportunities for the citizens of Maine.”

Last month, Thomas College and MEMA held their first educational cybersecurity event at Thomas in Waterville. Over 700 cities and towns were invited. This event was the first in a series of events aimed to keep citizens safe. Attendants of this event learned about and how to protect themselves from cyber threats. These threats pose a serious risk for Maine cities and towns, including police departments and town managers, for example. The risks include: losing access to important documents due to ransomware infection, leaking confidential information because of sophisticated social engineering, and being unable to continue operations and recover from an attack.

This partnership will also allow Thomas College students studying cyber security and defense to help the community and gain practical experience through the new Thomas College Security Center.

The Center, a physical space and student-run service at the College, will collaborate with MEMA on this partnership to educate citizens about potential cyber-threats. The Center will be supported by Thomas College’s cybersecurity and criminal justice faculty.

Thomas College student, Forrest Labbe ’15, MBA ’16, says the purpose of the Security Center is to build cyber security awareness at Thomas College and to bring cyber security, IT, business, and criminal justice students together to do research, outreach to the community, and to work with small businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits to help educate and protect them.

“I’m excited to start the framework of something that, in the future, every student in the cyber security, computer science, IT, and criminal justice programs can be a part of,” said Labbe.

The computer and technology field is growing, especially the demand for qualified employees with almost 2,000 jobs available in Maine and around one million cyber security vacancies nationally.

Thomas College offers majors in computer science, computer information systems, and security and cyber defense.

About Thomas College: Founded in 1894, Thomas College is at the forefront of affordability, access to college education, and providing students with a good return on investment. The private, career-oriented college is committed to preparing its undergraduates for careers in all forms of business, technology, criminal justice, psychology, and education. On average, 94 percent of Thomas graduates are employed within 90 days of graduation. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and awards a Master of Business Administration (with concentrations in Accounting, Health Care Management, Human Resources, and Project Management); a Master of Science in Education, Educational Leadership, and Literacy Education; a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Arts; an Associate in Science, and an Associate in Arts. For more information, visit www.thomas.edu.

About Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA): Maine Emergency Management Agency’s mission is to lessen the effects of disaster on the lives and property of the people of Maine through leadership, coordination and support in the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. MEMA works with FEMA as well the 16 county Emergency Management Agencies across the state of Maine and many other agencies to help them prepare for and manage disasters. For more information, visit http://www.maine.gov/mema/ .

For additional information, contact MacKenzie Riley at rileym@thomas.edu or 207.859.1313.

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