The school bell is about to ring in another academic year, and as children pull out their lunchboxes and teachers decorate their rooms, schools continue to face an onslaught of cyberthreats while also grappling with perpetually insufficient budgets, legacy IT, and under-staffing concerns.
The increased level of connectivity in today’s schools means richer opportunities for learning and community, but it also puts at further risk the financial data, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive information that educational institutions hold.
K-12 schools received a cyber maturity score of 3.55 out of 7 from the Nationwide Cybersecurity Review (NCSR) risk-based assessment, despite the fact that many school districts are trying to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. And according to 29 percent of K–12 participants in that report, a cyber incident occurred in their district in the previous year. Malware and ransomware were two of the most prevalent occurrences. According to the report, ransomware attacks pose the greatest cybersecurity risk to K–12 schools and districts in terms of overall cost and downtime.
The good news is that the federal government is taking this seriously. In early August, the Biden Administration announced a new plan focused on strengthening cybersecurity in K-12 schools. While the elements of this plan are rolled out, school IT teams and leaders can also start to take action in another area: cyber hygiene for students. It’s never too early to start teaching children basic cyber literacy.