Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cyber security resources shared

IASB is sharing guidance from a new national cyber security initiative by highlighting key resources for schools and school districts.

Developed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for its Cyber Secure Schools initiative, the highlighted items are designed to enhance the security of Illinois school networks and data systems, and reduce cyber-threat vulnerabilities. NSBA’s initiative was launched July 3 in response to concerns about rapid changes in technology leading to significant new cyber-threat developments.

School districts often use a variety of technology tools, including “free” file-sharing or cloud storage websites, or personal email accounts; all of which can make them vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to NSBA. Potential risks are further increased when an individual uses personal or multiple devices to access school networks or online forums where student data and other confidential or sensitive information may be housed or posted.

Breaches in the education sector have increased since 2015, according to Verizon. The company’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations report notes that hackers and cyber-attackers are constantly developing new tactics to access systems and data. And while a system can be compromised in minutes, the majority of breaches can take months or longer to discover.

The fragility of district and school-based information and data systems is a growing concern, NSBA states. With the increased number of instances, and the rising complexity of cyber threats, the policies and practices that may have helped a school district avoid potential network and system threats in the past cannot be relied upon to be as effective tomorrow.

NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel explains that “Today’s school leaders must be able to familiarize themselves with the ever-evolving cyber-threat landscape and take proactive steps to secure sensitive student and staff data, and district operations.”

Among the resources available at Cyber Secure Schools are toolkits to assist with procedural reviews, a K-12 Cyber Incident Map, and a Cyber Risk Report regarding school communications.

NSBA is hosting a webinar with BoardDocs to discuss the initiative on July 18.