Senate Passes K-12 Cybersecurity Act to Protect Schools from Cyberattacks

With the start of the school year getting underway, an impactful bill follows. This past month, the Bipartisan K-12 Cybersecurity Act passed the Senate, and with it, shines a new spotlight on the importance of cybersecurity on our K-12 school districts. 

Whether private or public, magnet or charter, these schools hold valuable information that, before this bill, remained relatively unprotected. Throughout this blog, learn what exactly the K-12 Cybersecurity Act is and the important role it plays in not only protecting student information but yours as well.

So What Is the K-12 Security Act?

Like most pieces of legislation, political jargon and excessive verbiage can make it hard to decipher what exactly is being passed and how it will affect you. According to Meritalk, the K-12 Cybersecurity Act would “direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to complete a study of the cybersecurity risks that schools face and develop recommendations and resources for schools” to improve them.

In layman’s terms, if passed, the CISA would run tests on K-12 schools’ cybersecurity software and recommend/implement different resources to better protect the school’s data.

This bipartisan piece of legislation is sponsored by Senate Homeland Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Rick Scott. (R-Fla.) 

According to Meritalk, “If the legislation is signed into law, CISA will be tasked to work with teachers, school administrators, other Federal departments, and private sector organizations to complete a study of cybersecurity risks specific to K-12 educational institutions, including risks related to securing sensitive student and employee records and challenges related to remote-learning. Following the study, CISA will put together an online toolkit for schools to use.”

 

Why is the K-12 Cybersecurity Act Necessary?

Now we know what this bill would do, but we’re still short on why we need something like this in place. Here are the top two reasons:

  1. Safety

Whether it be students, faculty, staff or even the parents, the primary reason such a bill is necessary is for the cybersafety of our K-12 schooling system and all the components necessary for its success.

According to Sophos, who conducts a yearly cybersecurity report based on 499 IT decision-makers, 2020 marked an all-time high in ransomware attacks against the education sector at 44%. To make things worse, 58% of the attempted ransomware attacks successfully encrypted the data they were searching for. From home addresses to phone numbers, personal information quickly became public for many this past year. 

On top of these successful cyber hacks, we see an average ransom payment of $112,435 that over a third (35%) of attacked schools had to pay in order to get their data back. Additionally, only 70% of schools that paid their ransom obtained their data back, leaving 32% out of luck. 

These statistics, along with the increase in ransomware attacks across all sectors of our nation and the transition back to in-person learning should serve as more than enough reasoning to support increased cybersecurity in schools. 

  1. Awareness and Education

Did you know, according to Tessian, 88% of data breaches are caused by human error?  Looking at this large percentage of mistakes one might think there is no solution, but there is. Education. 

Educating, not only students but staff and faculty as well, on identifying malware and safe cyber-practices would make a huge impact on the number of successful cybersecurity breaches across school systems. If passed, the K-12 Cybersecurity Act would not only enhance the cybersecurity of each school, but it would also provide resources to combat such attacks and bring awareness to the idea that anyone could be a target at any time. 

In a place where educating the future generation takes precedent, why not use federal resources to teach safe practices on something we use daily. 

 

 

Do Your Part to Prevent Cyberattacks

The threat of malware and ransomware will only continue to grow, but fortunately, so will our advancements in combating it. This bill is a step in the right direction in the ongoing fight against cyber threats, however, there are ways you can do your part. Spread awareness on the importance of cybersecurity and learn more about ways to combat it. Our blog is a great place to start!

 

K-12 Cybersecurity Act, but for your Business

Cybersecurity in schools is important, but it’s just as important for your business. Fortunately for you, you don’t need Senate approval to have a cybersecurity team on your side.

At MDL, we make it a priority to implement the best practices for your business when it comes to cybersecurity. Our services help train your employees to spot the warning signs of cyber threats and add an extra level of protection by backing up data externally. In the event that your data is lost, stolen or manipulated, it will always be secure with MDL. Don’t let your business be a victim of a cyberattack, and get protected with MDL Technology today.

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