Special Report: K-12 Cybersecurity: Big Threats and Best Practices

One of the biggest security threats school districts face isn’t posed by a physical intruder trying to come in through the front door, but by a faceless actor swarming them from cyberspace. Across the country, districts are scrambling to protect themselves from cyberattacks, coming in the form of phishing e-mails, malware, data breaches, and distributed denial-of-service attacks. Hackers may be interested in getting students’ personal information or employees’ financial documents, or worming their way into districts’ networks to launch attacks on another organization.

In this special report, Education Week delves into the nature of the threats facing K-12 systems and the steps they can take to protect themselves. The report includes a look at how districts in North Dakota—which are part of an online statewide network—are trying to protect themselves from cyberattacks; the results of an exclusive nationwide survey of K-12 districts’ cybersecurity protocols and weaknesses; a Q-and-A with a district tech leader that shows how her school system has trained its employees to recognize threats; and an examination of best practices for school systems to consider.


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About This Report

This Education Week examination of K-12 cybersecurity is the second of three special reports focused on the needs of K-12 district technology leaders, including chief technology officers. Each report in the series features exclusive results of a new, nationally representative survey of CTOs, conducted by the Consortium for School Networking, an organization representing K-12 district technology officials.

Read the first report on K-12 interoperability here.

Education Week Experts

Subject-matter experts featured in this report include:

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In North Dakota alone, the state network used by K-12 schools, state universities, and other public agencies experiences 5.7 million known cyberattacks every month.
March 19, 2019 – Education Week

A survey by Education Week and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) shows big-city district leaders are more likely than their rural counterparts to say cybersecurity worries are on the rise.
March 20, 2019 – Education Week

Melissa Tebbenkamp, the director of instructional technology for the Raytown Quality Schools near Kansas City, says her district's biggest cybersecurity risk is "ourselves."
March 20, 2019 – Education Week

Learn about common-sense measures you can put in place to protect your district against a rising mix of cyber threats facing K-12 schools.
March 20, 2019 – Education Week

Doug Levin, the founder of the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, argues that superintendents and school boards need to take a more active role in improving cybersecurity.
March 20, 2019 – Education Week

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