Westfield council OKs $199K for cybersecurity, vets services for Montgomery | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

WESTFIELD — At the Jan. 23 meeting of the City Council, Bridget Matthews-Kane asked for immediate consideration for an appropriation of $199,250 from free cash to the Technology Center for the purchase of endpoint cybersecurity software for a period of 36 months, which the council unanimously approved after an explanation.

“I’m going to start by telling you a horror story,” Matthews-Kane said, before describing the cyber attack that impacted the city and schools in Lowell in April 2023. She said it took that city 12 weeks to recover, and while it didn’t release how much it had to spend fixing the damage, Matthews-Kane said the average cost for such events is $4.5 million — including $1 million alone for identity-theft software.

Matthews-Kane said the technology director told her that there were 600 attempted cyberattacks in Westfield just in the past week.

“This appropriation is to protect our city from such a horror story,” she said, adding that Westfield will use a new vendor that will protect the city’s information 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

She also said buying three years at once offers significant savings, as well as an additional $25,000 off the cost if the purchase is made before Jan. 30.

Councilor James Adams asked if the software was new for the city, and if it should be included in the annual budget. Matthews-Kane said the city has had it, but the current software license expires in June, and city officials want an overlap to make sure there are no gaps in coverage. She also said putting this expense in the Technology Center’s budget would cause it to dramatically spike one year, then go down, then spike again. She said the sum being spent this year would cover three years of service.

Also approved was the intermunicipal agreement with Montgomery for Westfield to provide veterans services in that town.

“We’ve done intermunicipal agreements with various towns for different items. This is an agreement to provide veterans services for the town of Montgomery,” said Councilor William Onyski, who prepared the agreement in the Legislative and Ordinance Committee to bring to the council.

Onyski said under the agreement, veterans in Montgomery would first contact their own Town Hall, and employees there would forward the request to the Veterans Services office in Westfield. He said Westfield officials will help Montgomery veterans with Chapter 115 state benefits, as they already do with veterans who live in Westfield.

In the agreement, Montgomery will pay Westfield $2,317, which Onyski said is based on its population.

“Montgomery will pay their share. It’s a win-win, that will really help the town of Montgomery,” Onyski said.

“I think there are veterans up there that are losing out on funding, and she’s able to help them,” Adams said, referring to Veterans Services Director Julie Barnes. “I think this is a great agreement and will help veterans get benefits who were not able to get them before,” he added.

At the start of the meeting, Councilor Nicholas Morganelli read a report of the two Navy SEALs who were lost during an operation in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 11. One of them, Christopher Chambers, attended Westfield High School and was part of a state championship-winning swim team.

“We as a community are forever grateful for his service as a citizen to Westfield and the nation,” Morganelli said, as he asked for prayers for the families and a moment of silence for both men.


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