The Central Coast is known for great weather and beautiful beaches, but could it also be a cutting-edge hub for those training to fight cyber criminals?
Making the latter a reality came one step closer April 5, after SLO County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept a grant that would pave the way for the creation of a state-of-the-art cyber training complex at Camp San Luis Obispo.
The $68,358 in grant funding was awarded to the SLO District Attorney’s Office by the California Department of Justice. It will be used to obtain equipment and staff for the development of a classroom and laboratory, with the goal of providing training and support for local and state law enforcement agencies in areas such as cyber crime and computer forensics.
The need for law enforcement agencies to utilize technology continues to grow. Nearly every crime, from human trafficking to drug dealing to terrorism, usually involves some evidence stored online or on computers, laptops, or cell phones. Speaking to the supervisors, county District Attorney Dan Dow called cyber crime a “growing threat” and pointed to the need for more education and training on the issue.
“It presents a really exciting opportunity,” Dow said.
The grant will be administered by Cal Poly SLO, which agreed to kick in an additional $60,000 of matching funds for the program. According to William Britton, visiting director for Cal Poly’s cyber security center, building the lab is the first step toward a planned cyber training complex at Camp SLO. Currently, federal agencies do offer training, but the same training is lacking at the state level, Britton told the supervisors. If plans for the cyber center are fully realized, it would be the only such facility in the state.
“Basically this will change the way we do business in the cyber world,” said Britton, who is also vice president of cyber strategy for the engineering, construction, and technology company Parsons. “We have the perfect storm of infrastructure and connectivity in this location.”