NTCA Announces Partnership with Department of Homeland Security to Expand Cybersecurity Education for Small, Rural Telecom Operators

For Immediate Release
Contact:Laura Withers, 703-351-2087, lwithers@ntca.org

Arlington, Va. (December 15, 2017)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association today announced that it has entered into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS) to provide operators of small, rural telecommunications networks with robust educational programming and insights into industry best practices to aid their development of more comprehensive cybersecurity risk-management programs.

 NTCA is the premier association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. NTCA members invest in our nation’s future by deploying state-of-the-art, advanced communications infrastructure in the most rural, hard-to-reach areas of the country where the population density is typically 1-5 customers per square mile.

The association’s new cybersecurity education program, named NTCA CyberWise, is supported by an award through the DHS National Infrastructure Protection Plan Security and Resilience Challenge and the Office of Infrastructure Protection, in partnership with NIHS. The challenge provides opportunities for the critical infrastructure community to help develop technology, tools, processes and methods that address immediate needs and strengthen the long-term security and resilience of critical infrastructure.

The program comprises four components:

  1. Program participants will receive sector-specific guidance and industry best practices focused on the needs of small communications network providers in concert with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.
     
  2. The NTCA Cybersecurity Bundle, a comprehensive guide designed to help telco executives, board officers and operational staff develop a risk-management approach to cybersecurity, will be updated and distributed to program participants for free and available on the NTCA website for a nominal fee.
     
  3. Three half-day, complimentary educational workshops will be held in conjunction with regional NTCA events in 2018, featuring detailed training regarding cyber risk assessment and mitigation, threat response and recovery strategies, and how to create and sustain a culture of awareness.
     
  4. NTCA will develop a recognition program for staff of small telecom companies who have achieved the education needed to serve as a Cyber Risk Manager for their company. To be eligible for recognition, participants must attend one in-person training and two educational webcasts to be offered throughout 2018.

“As the national trade association for hundreds of independent, community-based telecommunications companies serving vast portions of the nation’s landmass, NTCA understands the importance of taking better steps to help secure our critical communications infrastructure,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “NTCA’s members remain engaged and motivated to improve their company’s cybersecurity posture, although the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and other industry resources are expansive and can be overwhelming.

“To that end, we are thrilled to receive this award to help bridge the gaps in education and awareness of cybersecurity risk management principles and empower our members to take action.”

Cybersecurity risk-management programming will be featured at the 2018 NTCA Telecom Executive Forum, March 11–13, in Monterey, Calif.; IP Vision Conference & Expo, April 23–25, in New Orleans, La.; and the NTCA Cybersecurity Summit, October 21–23, in Dallas, Texas. More information about the sessions will be shared on the NTCA website as it is available.

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of transformative technological advancements, regulatory challenges and marketplace competition, NTCA members are leading the technological evolution for rural consumers, delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development, e-commerce, health care, agriculture and education, and it contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year. Visit us at www.ntca.org.