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Edmonds College campus in summer 2022. (Red Box Pictures Photo / Scott Eklund)

Washington leaders trying to bulk up the state’s cybersecurity workforce are boosting community and technical college cybersecurity program enrollments by 500 seats.

The $6.85 million effort is being funded through the state Legislature.

“Bank accounts, social security numbers, health information, the names and addresses of family and friends — all this data creates a treasure trove of information for cybercriminals looking to commit identify fraud themselves or sell the information to others,” said Paul Francis, executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

“With this investment, our colleges will train more people in cybersecurity at all levels,” Francis said by email.

Colleges around Washington applied for the new funding, which was allocated by the board. The recipients were announced this week. Green River College, located south of Seattle in Auburn, and Edmonds College, located to Seattle’s north, both received roughly $1.5 million. Each will add more than 100 new seats for students.

“This will enable Edmonds cybersecurity and digital forensics faculty to focus on the core mission — enabling students who want a new successful career and teaching industry professionals who wish to enhance their skill sets and elevate their career path,” said Mike Andrew, a cyberterrorism instructor at Edmonds, in a statement.

The college will use its funding for multiple programs, including industry certification, cybersecurity specialist training and digital forensics.

Last year, Washington created an Office of Cybersecurity in the wake of a data breach with the office of the State Auditor that involved the personal information of at least 1.47 million residents.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, cybersecurity agencies and experts have warned organizations to be on heightened alert for Russian attacks. President Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better initiative also sought to boost cybersecurity efforts, earmarking $500 million for related programs.

Editor’s note: The $6.85 million in funding came from the state Legislature, not federal sources.

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