How To Evaluate & Nurture Your District’s Cybersecurity Readiness — THE Journal

How To Evaluate & Nurture Your District’s Cybersecurity Readiness — THE Journal


Expert point of view

How to assess and promote cybersecurity readiness in your district

The 2022 edition of the K12 Security Information Exchange K12 Cybersecurity Review Report states that ransomware has outpaced other types of cyberattacks such as the most common threat to K-12 schools in the United States. United.

These ransomware attacks are carried out by sophisticated cybercriminals who often work abroad in countries that U.S. law enforcement cannot reach. Intentionally targeted at K-12 districts, these malicious hackers see public and private schools as an easy target to collect ransom payments and steal sensitive personal data from teachers and students. School districts provide an attractive target for many cybercriminals because public schools are known to lack the resources and computer staff to respond to attacks. The large attack area of ​​a school district offers a lot of vulnerabilities due to the lack of cybersecurity safeguards and inadequate storage of documents in cloud drives.

Countering these ransomware attacks with the right tools and resources can be especially difficult if there is little or no involvement from all stakeholders, or if there is no space in the IT budget to enhance cybersecurity efforts.

When resources and stakeholder involvement are limited, IT professionals can still strengthen their school’s security defense measures and limit exposure to attacks by strategically implementing cyber benchmarks.

Evaluate your readiness and maturity for digital transformation

The design and implementation of security benchmarks for K-12 begins with the development of a technology strategy through a comprehensive assessment of the digital transformation. Technology is integrated into almost every facet of an education ecosystem, and that ecosystem is constantly changing. Participation in this evaluation will assess the situation of your organization by evaluating:

  • Data-based knowledge
  • Digital learning skills
  • computer governance
  • Integration of information and systems
  • Infrastructure
  • Access management and authentication

Running your system with digital identities will allow your district to maximize instructional time, protect its learning environment, and minimize the burden on the IT department. In addition, it will provide leadership and IT with the opportunity to work together and develop actionable steps that will help advance the district.

Develop a roadmap for IT staff with district leaders

The next step is to create a responsible IT department that is evaluated annually in its portfolio of aggregate skill sets. The threat landscape is constantly changing and requires continuous monitoring by IT to ensure financial efficiency and the most up-to-date technological responses to potential threats.

That said, a strong IT department is not successful until it has the support and guidance of the school management. Cyber ​​risks are enhanced when there are not enough cohesive conversations and mutual partnerships between IT, superintendents, educators, and security companies.

Schools need to be on the same page and operate with the same perspective to produce a positive effect. To do so, they need to establish a better mindset together between curriculum and leadership. Without this, schools are placed in a difficult position when working with multiple individualized companies. Forming a healthy culture of discussion and conversations about specific risks between curriculum and IT can promote an inclusive approach to working towards a more formalized risk and compliance program.

Promote a healthy digital citizenship environment

With security risk management as everyone’s responsibility, the promotion of responsible digital citizenship among teachers and students can foster a strengthened cyber stance. Digital citizenship is the continuous development of the responsible, appropriate and empowered use of technology in education, and goes beyond personal responsibility. It is also about being actively aware of potential problems and thinking ahead about the risks. Students should also be trained to be aware of the security in the strength of their password, what viruses and malware are, and how to protect their fingerprints.

Establishing hygiene on the Internet in this way is a fundamental approach to cybersecurity that can be nurtured and expanded to reduce weak entry points. But securing your digital environment doesn’t have to be too complex or expensive. In fact, when it comes to establishing identity and access management, the entire educational ecosystem will benefit from consistent management while providing information on classroom analysis and advancing login. unique. Implementing a standard, secure baseline for a proactive cyber framework can help protect districts from the most common threats they face on a daily basis.

Data inventory, endpoint detection and fire drills

By being aware of the location and amount of data stored, administrators can create a layer of protection that will help guide informed decisions during an attack. Other milestones to consider include the establishment of cohesive backup and recovery plans that work together to proactively create, store, and test data availability.

Active enactment of endpoint protection can also provide constant security for mobile devices, laptops, and desktops. And finally, implementing fire drill tests that continuously check for resistance within your firewall settings can reduce the risk of non-compliance.

The digital education ecosystem is home to a variety of students, teachers and staff with a wide range of unique needs that require protection. Establishing healthy, proactive cybersecurity practices is critical to their security, and it is up to administrators to create innovative responses and safeguards that will make a real difference in the face of growing cyber challenges.

About the author


Michael Webb is the technology director of Houston, Texas-based Identity Automation.





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