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UWF Center for Cybersecurity awarded ​$8.3 million grant to launch cybersecurity training program for Florida state and local government personnel

Newswise — The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity received an $8.3 million grant to launch the UWF Florida Cybersecurity Training Program to provide free cybersecurity training for state and local government personnel.

“We are honored to ​​strengthen Florida’s cyber-ready workforce​ by equipping public sector personnel with up-to-date industry certifications​, knowledge and​ skills​,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, associate vice president for the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “We will provide training ​that leverages national standards, best practices and our Florida Cyber Range® to ​help government personnel​protect our state’s information and infrastructure.”

The program is part of the CyberSecureFlorida program led by Cyber Florida and funded by the Florida Legislature, which aims to bolster cybercrime prevention in Florida and equip state and local government personnel with up-to-date cybersecurity knowledge, skills and credentials. Courses and exercises are taught fully online by UWF faculty who provide foundational knowledge and hands-on skills via the Florida Cyber Range® hosted by the Center. Upon completion, participants earn industry certifications, digital badges and UWF certificates to document skills and competencies.

Registration is now open at uwf.edu/cybertraining for a variety of free online training options, including two-week technical courses on topics including essential cyber defenses, risk management, AI and machine learning for cybersecurity, network defense, threat intelligence, incident response and ICS Security, as well as eight-week industry certification prep courses for CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) and Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+). In addition, the Center will offer a variety of one-day tabletop exercises for those interested in learning more about cybersecurity but who may not have technical experience, including sessions on applications of AI in cybersecurity, phishing, ransomware, NIST security and privacy controls, security auditing and compliance, and security for local government and K-12 schools.

Training is open to Florida government employees, including state, city, county, state colleges and universities, K12, territorial and tribal, and will be offered through 2024. Each course or exercise is limited to 30 participants on a first-come basis and additional sessions will be added periodically. 

“Cyber Florida is delighted to partner with the University of West Florida along with our other State University System partners to deliver these robust courses to elevate Florida’s public-sector cybersecurity workforce and our state’s overall cybersecurity posture,” said Ernie Ferraresso, director, Cyber Florida at the University of South Florida. “UWF, as a leading institution in technical cybersecurity education and workforce development, is an essential member of our team and we look forward to this and future partnerships to develop and expand Florida’s cybersecurity workforce.”

The UWF Center for Cybersecurity is a national leader in cybersecurity workforce development and offers several programs and scholarships for cybersecurity training, upskilling, and reskilling. It is the lead institution for the National Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program, which has trained more than 1,700 transitioning military, first responders and veterans for cybersecurity jobs over the past three years and serves as a scalable solution to address the national cybersecurity workforce gap. 

For more information about UWF’s Florida Cybersecurity Training Program, including the course schedule, outlines and application form, visit uwf.edu/cybertraining.



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